Many political issues of 1901 are still debated by politicians
Should the state provide social services, health care,
old age pensions and housing, or should this be left to
the individual and the free market? Poor law expenditure
was booming at an alarming rate as more and more elderly
people who had no pensions entered the workhouses.
Were the 'irresponsible poor' to blame for their own poverty?
Many Liberal reform manifestos linked the problem of poverty
with that of alcohol. The Times in July 1901 claimed
that drunkenness was 'the most pressing of all the social
questions of the day'. However, Seebohm Rowntree's 1901
report (Poverty: A Study of Town Life) argued that
primary poverty had nothing to do with how the poor spent