Victorian Britain in the 21st Century……

                                                          Social Housing


In Scotland, the term “tenement” lacks the pejorative connotations it carries elsewhere, and refers simply to any block of flats sharing a common central staircase and lacking an elevator, particularly those constructed before 1919. Tenements were, and continue to be, inhabited by a wide range of social classes and income groups.

In Glasgow, where Scotland’s highest concentration of tenement dwellings can be found, the urban renewal projects of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s brought an end to the city’s slums, which had primarily consisted of older tenements built in the early 19th century in which large extended families would live together in cramped conditions. They were replaced by high-rise blocks that, within a couple of decades, became notorious for crime and poverty. The Glasgow Corporation made many efforts to improve the situation, most successfully with the City Improvement Trust, which cleared the slums of the old town, replacing them with what they thought of as a traditional high street, which remains an imposing townscape. (The City Halls and the Cleland Testimonial were part of this scheme). National government help was given following World War I when Housing Acts sought to provide “homes fit for heroes”. Garden suburb areas, based on English models, such asKnightswood were set up. These proved too expensive, so a modern tenement, three stories high, slate roofed and built of reconstituted stone, was re-introduced and a slum clearance programme initiated to clear areas such as the Calton and the Garngad.

Image          Image         Image

Tenement in EdinburghScotland      Tenement in Marchmont, Edinburgh,      Council houses in Chatteris,

(1893)                                                     built in 1882                                                     Cambridgeshire


The pressure for decent housing was increased by overcrowding in the large cities during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century; many social commentators (such as Octavia Hill) reported on the squalor, sickness and immorality that arose. Some philanthropists had begun to provide housing in tenement blocks, while some factory owners built entire villages for their workers, such as Saltaire (1853), Bournville (1879),Port Sunlight (1888), Stewartby, and Silver End as late as 1925.

Tax funding

It was not until 1885, when a Royal Commission was held, that the state took an interest. This led to the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, which encouraged local authorities to improve the housing in their areas. As a consequence, the London County Council opened theBoundary Estate in 1900, and many localmen councils began building flats and houses in the early twentieth century. The War indirectly provided a new impetus, when the poor physical health and condition of many urban recruits to the army was noted with alarm. This led to a campaign known as Homes fit for heroes and in 1919 the Government first required councils to provide housing, helping them to do so through the provision of subsidies, under the Housing Act 1919.

Many houses were built over the next few years in cottage estates. Examples of these were built at the Downham Estate in LondonKates Hill in DudleyLow Hill in Wolverhampton, Weoley Castle in Birmingham and Norris Green in Liverpool.

Blocks of flats were also built.

While new council housing had been built, little had been done to resolve the problem of inner city slums. This was to change with the Housing Act 1930, which required councils to prepare slum clearance plans, and some progress was made before the Second World War intervened.



Built in the 1930s, the Quarry Hill Flats,Quarry Hill, Leeds are a notable former example of council houses


Some of the million-plus bombed homes in London during WWII


Council housing in Rastrick, Calderdale, West Yorkshire

During the Second World War almost four million British homes were destroyed or damaged, and afterwards there was a major boom in council house construction.[8] The bomb damage of the Second World War only worsened the condition of Britain’s housing stock, which was in poor condition before the outbreak of war. Before the war many social housing projects, such as the Quarry Hill Flats (pictured) were built. However, the bomb damage meant that much greater progress had to be made with slum clearance projects. In cities like London, Coventry and Kingston upon Hull, which received particularly heavy bombing, the redevelopment schemes were often larger and more radical.

In the immediate post-war years, and well into the 1950s, council house provision was shaped by the New Towns Act 1946 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 of the 1945–51 Labour government. At the same time this government introduced housing legislation that removed explicit references to housing for the working class and introduced the concept of ‘general needs’ construction (i.e., that council housing should aim to fill needs for a wide range of society). In particular, Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health and Housing, promoted a vision of new estates where “the working man, the doctor and the clergyman will live in close proximity to each other”.

National Health Service


In February 1941 the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health recorded privately areas of agreement on post-war health policy which included “a complete health service to be available to every member of the community” and on 9 October 1941, the Minister of Health Ernest Brown announced that the Government proposed to ensure that there was a comprehensive hospital service available to everyone in need of it, and that local authorities would be responsible for providing it. The Medical Planning Commission set up by the professional bodies went one stage further in May 1942 recommending (in an interim report) a National Health Service with General Practitioners working through health centres and hospitals run by regional administrations. The Beveridge Report of December 1942 included this same idea.

Developing the idea into firm policy proved difficult. Although the BMA had been part of the Medical Planning Commission, at their conference in September 1943 the association changed policy to oppose local authority control of hospitals and to favour extension of health insurance instead of GPs working for state health centres. When Health Minister Henry Willink prepared a white paper endorsing a National Health Service, it was attacked by Brendan Bracken and Lord Beaverbrook and resignations were threatened on both sides. However, the Cabinet endorsed the White Paper , which was published in 1944. This White Paper includes the founding principles of the NHS: it was to be funded out of general taxation and not through national insurance, and services would be provided by the same doctors and the same hospitals, but:

  • services were provided free at the point of use;
  • services were financed from central taxation;
  • everyone was eligible for care (even people temporarily resident or visiting the country).

Willink then set about trying to assuage the doctors, a job taken over by Aneurin Bevan in Clement Attlee‘s Labour government after the war ended. Bevan quickly came to the decision that the 1944 white paper’s proposal for local authority control of voluntary hospitals was not workable, as the local authorities were too poor and too small to manage hospitals. He decided that “the only thing to do was to create an entirely new hospital service, to take over the voluntary hospitals, and to take over the local government hospitals and to organise them as a single hospital service”. This structure of the NHS in England and Wales was established by the National Health Service Act 1946 , which received Royal Assent on 6 November 1946. Bevan encountered considerable debate and resistance from the BMA who voted in May 1948 not to join the new service, but brought them on board by the time the new arrangements launched on 5 July 1948.

                                                            The Welfare State


The Beveridge Report of 1942, (which identified five “Giant Evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease) essentially recommended a national, compulsory, flat rateinsurance scheme which would combine health care, unemployment and retirement benefits. Beveridge himself was careful to emphasize that unemployment benefits should be held to a subsistence level, and after six months would be conditional on work or training, so as not to encourage abuse of the system. After its victory in the United Kingdom general election, 1945 the Labour Party pledged to eradicate the Giant Evils, and undertook policy measures to provide for the people of the United Kingdom “from the cradle to the grave.”


This policy resulted in massive expenditure and a great widening of what was considered to be the state’s responsibility. In addition to the central services of education, health, unemployment and sickness allowances, the welfare state also included the idea of increasing redistributive taxation, increasing regulation of industry food and housing (better safety regulations, weights and measures controls, etc.)

However, the initial foundation of the National Health Service (NHS) did not involve building new hospitals but merely the nationalisation of existing municipal and charitable foundations. The aim was not to substantially increase provision but to standardise care across the country; indeed Beveridge believed that the overall cost of medical care would decrease, as people became healthier and so needed less treatment. Instead, the cost rose dramatically, from £9 billion in 1948 (accounting for inflation) to £106 billion in 2011, and charges (for dentures, spectacles and prescriptions) were introduced in 1951 (by the same Labour government that had founded the NHS three years earlier). Despite this, the principle of health care “free at the point of use” became a central idea of the welfare state, which later governments, critical of the Welfare State, were unable to reverse. The classic Welfare State period lasted from approximately 1945 to the late-1970s, when policies under Thatcherism began to privatise public institutions, although many features remain today, including compulsory National Insurance contributions, and the provision of old age pensions.

The Labour Party, standing in 1945 on a programme of establishing a Welfare State, won a clear victory. However, since the 1980s the British government has begun to reduce some provisions in England: for example, free eye tests for all have now been stopped and prescription charges for drugs have constantly risen since they were first introduced in 1951. Policies differ in different countries of the United Kingdom, but the provision of a welfare state is still a basic principle of government policy in the United Kingdom today.

Please note: All of the above has been extracted from Wikipedia.


If the current Tory government get their way there will be, no more social housing, no more national health service and no more welfare state which were all created by Labour governments. All of these were created or at least set in stone and made more solid, after WW2. After most British men had been trained to fight and to stick up for themselves during WW2 and the then Labour government didn’t want the general populace to start a revolt in England. Yet now if you fight for your country, to keep your homes safe for you and for me, our soldiers are more likely to end up homeless. ‘Homes fit for heroes’ – where are they now?

The peace that has now been enjoyed in England for so long since the end of WW2 has made people soft; we are now just mere sheep. We are slowly but surely being turned back into a Victorian Britain in the 21st Century by our Tory government, austerity measures are just a way of the rich taking control of the poor because we outnumber them by soooo many.

Each time that the Tories have been in power they have slowly eaten away at everything that make Britain great for their own self serving greed and that of their supporters, e.g. bankers, big private sector companies and the like; Cameron even admitted this in last weeks (12/12/12) PMQ’s “We are making more money for the rich!” need I say more?

Food for thought!


  1. Reblogged this on forcemajeure007 and commented:

    This is more relevant now, than it was when I wrote it!!!

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