British Unemployment Programs, 1920-1938

British Unemployment Programs, 1920-1938

British Unemployment Programs, 1920-1938

British Unemployment Programs, 1920-1938

Excerpt

Among the problems that have confronted industrial nations during the last 20 years, none has proved more challenging and baffling than that created by mass unemployment. The enforced idleness of literally millions of would-be workers has compelled the governments of all important industrial countries to take action in the interests of the stability of society itself. For as the blight of unemployment affected an ever larger proportion of the citizens it became evident that the welfare of the unemployed and the economic repercussions of positive or negative policies adopted in regard to them were of much more than individual or local interest.

It is not surprising therefore that these same years have witnessed a tremendous expansion of governmental measures for dealing with unemployment. These have ranged all the way from utilizing the basic poor law or general relief systems to the organization and operation by government of elaborate work projects. At the same time increasing attention has been paid to the development of measures having as their objective the more speedy reabsorption of the unemployed into private employment. Publicly provided placement and guidance services have become widespread. To these have been added training and rehabilitation programs and controlled and assisted transference schemes.

Of all the various governmental measures taken to meet the many-sided problem of unemployment, none has been more generally adopted or received more widespread approval than unemployment insurance. The reasons for the popularity of this method of providing against loss of income attributable to unemployment are not far to seek.

To the worker the right to insurance benefits of an amount calculated by a legally set formula represented a highly preferable alternative to assistance secured through the poor law. It obviated the necessity not merely for undergoing a test of need with its resultant loss of privacy, but also for having any contact with a poor law system which in the public mind had come to be associated with a high degree of odium. At the same time the knowl-

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