1902 Encyclopedia > London > Pauperism - Poor-Law Unions; Charities

(Part 21)


Poor-Law Unions. Charities.

London since 1867 has been divided into thirty poor-law unions, which are governed by boards of guardians, the most part elected annually by the householders and owners of property, the number of votes possessed by each owner or householder varying from one to six, according to the value of the property. A proportion of the guardians in each union are so ex officio, or are nominated by the Local Government Board. The Act of 1867 authorized the establishment of outdoor dispensaries in any union or parish; and it twenty-seven of the thirty unions of the metropolis there are now forty-seven of these dispensaries, the number of prescriptions made up in the year 1880 being over a million. For the maintenance of lunatics and insane poor, of patients suffering from contagious disease, and of pauper children at school, and for the relief of casual paupers, a metropolis common poor fund is provided, through the operation of which the cost of maintaining the poor is now equalized, to the extent of 42.3 per cent. of the whole sum applied over the metropolitan area. The good results which have followed, both in lessening expense and diminishing pauperism, especially outdoor pauperism, form a strong argument for the complete equalization of the rates, and the creation of a united poor-law authority for the whole metropolis. The three unions which is 1880 contributed most in aid of the poorer ones were Kensington (27,705 pounds), St George’s (25,299 pounds), and the City of London (61,080 pounds); and the three unions most benefited were Holborn (21,048 pounds), Bethnal Green (19,835 pounds) and St Savior’s, Southwark *23,085 pounds), but as will be seen from Table XXI. Bewlow, great inequality still exists in the rating, and the rate is generally higher in the poorer districts. Each poor-law union possesses one or more workhouses, but the accommodation is inadequate, and difficulty in dealing satisfactorily with applicants often follows. Several unions, by the powers granted them under the Act of 1867, have combined into district to provide infirmaries for the sick and imbecile, there being now only three unions – Bethnal Green, Hampstead, and Lewisham – whose sick are not treated in establishments under medical supervision. In addition to this, the several unions and parishes are combined into one metropolitan asylums district, with a managing body of sixty members, fifteen of whom are nominated by the Local Government Board. The total number of persons relieved in establishments belonging to the managers of the metropolitan asylums district since the first was opened in 1870 has been more than 1200 in imbecile asylums, nearly 50,000 in hospitals for infections diseases, and 1375 on board the "Exmouth" training ship, which was established in March 1876. The paupers’ schools fall to be noticed under another section (see below, p. 834). The amount of accommodation provided in the various establishments of the unions in July 1870 was 35,093 beds, and in December 1880 it was 53,332 beds. Table XX. Gives a summary of the poor rate returns for 1880; Table XXI. The rateable value of the different unions in 1871 and 1881, and the average pauperism, the amount of adjusted relief, and the rate in the pound for relief in 1880; and Table XXII. Various particulars in reference to metropolitan pauperism for 1871 and 1880.

The annual income of the various charitable institutions in London is now over 4,000,000 pounds of which at least three-fourths is spent in London. That of the endowed parochial charities of the City of London in 1865 was 64,500 pounds, which by 1881 had increased to 116,960 pounds, those of Westminster being in the same years 26,555 pounds and 33,124 pounds. the income of the charities of the Livery Companies in 1869 was stated to be 99,027, pounds, and now the 1028 charities belonging to the companies have an aggregate income of 185,829 pounds, representing a capital value of 4,456,768 pounds. The amount spent on education is 65,130 pounds, and on doles 108,498 pounds. In addition, the charities of the corporation probably possess an annual income of 30,000 pounds. The parliamentary commission appointed to inquire into the endowed parochial charities of the City of London and




Westminster in the report of 1880 divides them into two classes, - those that are eleemosynary and those that are ecclesiastical. In regard to the first, it states that it is impossible to effect a satisfactory combination or readjustment of them under existing circumstances, and in regard to the second, that they are so far liberated by altered circumstances as to require reappropriation to new charitable use.

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