Liberal social reforms (1906-1914) refer to acts of social legislation introduced after the 1906 general election by the British Liberal Party. There was a shift to a collective governance system from laissez-faire. Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced changes to help the children, workers and the aged.
Due to poor living conditions people had a short life span; a large number of children never went to school and were unhealthy. For instance, about 66% of men who volunteered in Boer War (1899) were found unfit. Poor living standards especially for the workers resulted to strikes. There was also the formation of trade union which meant that the standards of living of workers had to be addressed. To address the issues they introduced reforms with respect to pension for the old, free school meals and children and young person act. Others included Trade Dispute Act, Workers Compensation Act and Merchant Shipping Act among others to improve life for workers.
Children suffered from poor health especially due to malnutrition which necessitated introduction of Education act. Children Act was introduced to ensure that there were no street children or any abuse and neglect. Remand house were made and juvenile court introduced to help achieve the objective. The implementation of this legislation was not that effective because, it took much time to be implemented and only helped some and not all children. The Old Age Pension Act was purposely introduced to provide financial assistance to the aged. Though it contributed much, there was a lot of exclusion which made some people be left out.
The main goal for the Children’s Act was to avoid neglect or abuse of the children and also prevent existence of street children. To achieve this remand house and juvenile courts were established. This ensured that there were no children in the street living without education and food. The Old Age Pensions Act was introduced to address the financial problems of the aged. It helped those who had at least 70 years of age. It was necessary because, lack of financial assistance from the previous government had given rise to a poor society. Those who qualified received pension of 5s weekly.
Liberals took made a deliberate effort to improve the living, health and working standards of the lower class people. Though the policy were relevant in design, their implementation was not effective. For example, some people who were supposed to benefit from a certain policy were left out. Also the services provided to children were only done through schools and not outside.