At the beginning of the X century surveys showed that 25% of the population were living in poverty. They found that at least 15% were living at subsistence level. They had just enough money for food, rent, fuel and clothes. They could not afford 'luxuries.'. About 10% were living in below subsistence level and could not afford an adequate diet.
The surveys found that the main cause of poverty was low wages. The main cause of extreme poverty was the loss of the main breadwinner. If dad was dead, ill or unemployed it was a disaster. Mum might get a job but women were paid much lower wages than men.
Surveys also found that poverty tended to go in a cycle (ed – Edward Dewey’s Cycles – now you know why I’m a believer) . Workers might live in poverty when they were children but things usually improved when they left work and found a job. However when they married and had children things would take a turn for the worse. Their wages might be enough to support a single man comfortably but not enough to support a wife and children too. However when the children grew old enough to work things would improve again. Finally, when he was old a worker might find it hard to find work, except the most low paid kind and be driven into poverty again.
A liberal government was elected in X and they made some reforms. From that year poor children were given free school meals.Then in X the government passed an act establishing sickness benefits for workers. In X unemployment was extended to most workers although it was not extended to agricultural workers