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Transformation of British Society: Key Topic 1
Terms in this set (17)
1929, US stock market collapsed, been supporting European countries since end of WW1, now: trade less, stop lending and call back loans. Britain among. Industries sold less, less income, sack workers or pay less and restrict hours. Downward economic spiral. Obvious signs: increase of unemployment.
Britain in the 1920s: background to the depression
End of WW1, only financial help for the unemployed was National Insurance Benefit in 1911, to cover unsteady work. If work dried up, paid benefit for 15 weeks. 1918, the 'dole', paid small amount of benefit to soldiers and war workers who couldn't find jobs. During 1920s, the economy and unemployment a huge problem. Most workers unemployed were men.
-the depression made unemployment in Britain worse, 1929 1.5 million, 1930 2.4 million. Workers in badly affected industries and unemployed protested in various ways-petitions, wrote to the government, wrote to newspapers, marches.
-these hunger marches were organised by the National une outed workers movement (NUWM) set up in 1921. Make point not lazy, wanting work more than benefits.
-meanwhile Unemployment Fund, paying out more and more in various benefits, as work was not found.
Unemployment in 1930s
Unemployment highest in coal, iron, steel, cotton and shipbuilding industries. Of North and east of England, and in Scotland and Wales. Shipbuilders and miners reducing. Unemployment wasn't spread evenly.
Most new factories built were in London or nearby. Usually for new industries such as car making. Ran mostly on electricity than coal, so didn't help coal industry. If lived in right part and in right industry, depression could pass you by, untouched.
Government Reactions: labour in power
-1931, government ministers- cutting benefits by 15% and means test to visit the home to examine conditions, and know savings of all members of family.
-most refused to accept this proposal, cuts would cause hardship and means test would be humiliating. The government collapsed.
The national government
MacDonald, as prime minister, set up a national government of moderate Liberal, Labour, Conservative MPs. General election, won. Unemployment approach?
The 1934 Unemployment Act
By end of 1931, government cut benefits by 10% and set up means test. In 1934 he Unemployment Act clarified differences between types of benefits.
-National Insurance, was right of everyone paying in their contributions, no means test, only 15 weeks.
-the 'dole' lower payment, those who had not paid NI or 15 weeks were up. A board ran the dole from taxes. Still had to pass the means test.
Government knew about uneven hit. £2 given to helper those hit hardest, spent on social improvement or economic development, didn't solve problem, lack of money, some spent more wisely than others. Government knew money wasn't enough.
-1936, debate for more help, wasn't always thought out well, it allowed industries to apply directly money but in worse hit areas the industry already collapsed.
1937, Special Area act gave lower taxes and low rent to businesses that moved into the special areas. Seldom enough to tempt businesses to relocate.
What was it like to be unemployed?
Some ways, same for everyone. Never enough money, choices on spending. Go to employment exchange once a week, to register as looking for work and to collect your money. Some had to sign twice. Those not on NI, degrading to go through means test. Benefit officer, examine house, anything to sell, peoples savings, other residents income. Child work, dole reduced. Many survived on less than a study stated as the minimum amount of food for proper nourishment.
Many people joined saving clubs for necessities. Paid regular amount each week and then, when enough saved, bought the goods.
The Jarrow crusade: shipbuilding in the 1930s
Suffered high unemployment. In 1930, set up NSS, to 'rationalise' the industry, making it more efficient. This meant, buying up shipyards, closing them off and selling off, or renting, the land. The shipbuilding areas of North East were eligible for help under Special Areas Act of 1934, but only reached some areas.
Area in north-east. Some money went to there, under Special areas act, but very little. NSS closed Palmer's shipyard in Jarrow. Causing 64% unemployment. 1936, when some industries in Special Areas were allowed to apply for money, Jarrow couldn't, no industry to apply it to. By 1936 the unemployment figures improved, by then many had been starving.
1936, NUWM, communist organisation, organised a national hunger march to London. Government opposed as shouldn't be pressurised into acting. People in Jarrow Decided to hold their own, non-political, march for work.
The Jarrow Crusade
Members of Jarrow council,fm rom all political parties, planned march and marched together. Didn't use red (link to communism) in banners. Religious service before to bless them. Consisted of 200 fittest unemployed men. To show wanted work and fit for it. As well as being able to cope with the match itself. Petition signed over 1000 asking for work.
NUWM opposed, saying should join national march, those anti-communist opposed hunger marches in general and didn't change this for the Jarrow crusade. Labour MP told shouldn't be supporting.
Matching to London
Covered 291 miles in stages. Old bus to carry equipment, and sent people ahead to organise place to stay and food. Holding public meetings when stopping, to explain reasons not being benefits or charity. Public reactions varied. Some towns allowed use of public baths, some gave out food and drink and places to stay some had to stay in workhouses. The last resort of the homeless and jobless.
The impact of the Jarrow Crusade
Government reaction: refused to accept petition. While march in progress, had issued a statement disapproving all marches. Despite purpose. Government made sure marcher's benefit payments had stopped whilst on the march, leaving families in worse conditions. Some were tempted to leave march with jobs, but refused.
Gains from the march
Some ordered jobs, meant leaving Jarrow. Sir John Jarvis, MP, taken interest after march and said he would set up a steel works in Jarrow. Employed 200 men gave government and excuse to ignore Jarrow.
The Jarrow legacy
Many felt crusade had failed. Didn't achieve it's aim of the government to bring work to Jarrow. Country rearmed readiness for the Second World War, unemployment did drop and many Jarrow marchers found work.
Above this, crusade came a legend a byword or public protest, with huge public support. Political unity didn't last long. Came together for marches, but soon opponents again. But the spirit of the marches inspired many modern protests.
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