poor relief local board
ORDINARY CHARGES. s. d.
Officers' salaries, allowances, and Repayment of money borrowed, tions, and alterations The total amount raised by " poor rates " so-called i England and Wales in the year 1873 was £12,657,943, and the amount expended £12,426,566. But of this expenditure, not more than the sum of £7,692,169, before mentioned, was employed directly for the relief of the poor, the remainder, £4,734,397, going for other payments under the poor-laws, such as police rates, vaccination fees, and disbursements of highway boards. The actual direct expenses for the relief of the poor in the year 1873 were under the following branches :- £ Cost of in-door maintenance 1,549,403 Cost of out-door relief 3,279,122 Workhouse loans repaid and interest thereon 272,698 Salaries and rations of officers 893,218 Other expenses connected with the relief of ) 914,957 the poor Maintenance of lunatics in asylums or licensed houses 780,527 Total 7,690,325 The average rate imposed by local taxation for the actual relief of the poor in 1873 was 5s. 11d. in the pound per head of population for the whole of the United Kingdom, while for England and Wales alone it was Gs. 7d. per head of population, for Scotland 5s. 2d., and for Ireland 3s. 4d. Taking the percentage ratio to the whole population, tax-paying and not, the amount was 3s. 3d. per individual for the United Kingdom, while the share for Eng land and Wales was 3s. 8d. per head, for Scotland 3s. 5d. and for Ireland ls. 4d. per head of population.
The enormous cost of pauperism, and consequent heavy burthen entailed upon taxpayers - deemed the harder as being very unequally distributed, the poorest parishes being the highest assessed - led to many recent legislative attempts to effect a remedy. Under the Poor-Law Amendment Act of 4 and 5 Will. IV. c. 76, passed iu 1834, a somewhat complicated administrative machinery was formed for the purpose, receiving the title of "Pour Law Commission ;" but it was superseded in 1847, by the statute 10 and 11 Vict. c. 109, which instituted the " Commissioners for administering the Laws for the Relief of the Poor in England and Wales." An Act passed two years after, 12 and 13 Vict. c. 103, abolished alike commissions and commissioners, establishing in their stead, a "a poor-law board," invested with extensive powers, its president having a seat in the Cabinet. Although by the Act itself, and the institution of a new member of the Government, it was sufficiently acknowledged that the question of pauperism had become one of the most momentous of the day, and although its working, under the direction of a very able chief, gave general satisfaction, it was soon found that it was faulty in many respects. It was particularly so in not recognizing that the system of maintaining the poor, having been and remaining entirely local, could not be dissevered from local government in general, and that the necessary reform must be in this direction.
The admission of this fact led to the passing of another statute, 34 and 35 Vict. c. 70, which obtained the royal assent, August 11, 1871, known as the Local Government Board Act. The Act ordered the establishment of a Local Government Board, as a ministerial department, to undertake all the functions of the Poor-Law Board, abolished henceforth, and, moreover, to superintend the execution of all the laws relating to the public health, and to matters connected with local government. The new Local Government Board began its functions in March 1871, its president holding a seat in the Cabinet.
Since its institution, the Local Government Board has published annual reports, addressed to parliament, the sixth of which was issued at the end of the session of 1877. Judging by this report, the action of the new system for superintending the relief of the poor has been very successful, there being a considerable decrease of the expenditure for the actual maintenance of paupers. But this was effected entirely by savings in out-door relief. The respective charges for the maintenance of paupers in workhouses and for out-door relief in 1871 and in 1876 were stated as follows in the report : - Poor-Law Administration, - According to the sixth annual report of the Local Government Board, tIke expenditure for the in-door and out-door maintenance of paupers formed little more than half the total cost set down as being " for the relief of the poor." Among the other branches of expenditure were " salaries and rations of poor-law officers," £913,000 ; " charges for pauper lunatics in asylums," £883,000; and a number of similar disbursements, the total amounting to £3,042,830. It is admitted in the report that, notwithstanding the strictest supervision, the local expenses of administration continue increasing, while the direct cost of maintenance of the poor is decreasing. Thus in 1871, when the actual maintenance of in-door and outdoor paupers cost £-893,600 more than in 1876, the extra branches of expenditure were ,t357,000 less.
There cannot be any reasonable doubt that the principal remedy of pauperism must be sought in the general education of the poor. That this is already taking effect, under the salutary working of the Compulsory Education Act of 1870, there are many symptoms. It is stated, in a report of the inspectors of the London board schools, published at the end of 1877, that the order and regularity strictly enforced in their schools not only affect the character of the children, but that of the parents in the most destitute social condition, including paupers receiving outdoor relief. " There are indications," says the report, " that the parents are beginning to feel the wholesome influence of the schools. We are assured by teachers in the very lowest neighbourhood that there is now much less active opposition to their efforts to improve the children than formerly, and a marked diminution in the violent Language and rough conduct which were at one time the invariable accompaniments to a parent's visit to the school." The education of their children, the report goes on to say, is strikingly reflected in a " growing self-respect of the parents," while all things " point unmistakably to a great change for the better, which is being slowly yet surely effected in the homes of the children through the influence of board schools."