It is one of the stock accusations against the Society that it is blindly opposed to all intervention of the State on behalf of the poor; but in reviewing its history we are amezed to find how constantly the accusation is refuted by the facts. We have already seen its persistence in urging reforms upon the State in the matter of Housing and Sanitation, and now we have to cite yet another instance of its sympathetic attidute towards State Aid in direction where it could be beneficial.
In 1870 was inaugurated the system of Compulsory Education which would, it was hoped, do more to raise the whole status of the rising generation than any system of relief, however wisely administered. Very little time elapsed before the education authorities began to find themselves hopelessly entangled in questions of relief in their endeavour to get the children into schools. Education was not gratuitous; normal parent was expected to pay a fee for his children, but there were two ways in which this obligation might be remitted. The first was under "Denison's Act", which enabled the Poor Law Guardians to pay for the education of those receiving out-relief; the other was the power of School Boards themselves to remit their fees. Neither of these methods could be worked satisfactorily without further assistance, and on January 1, 1872, the Council of the Charity Organisation Society was informed that the London School Board was forming small Committees in various part of London for the purpose of inducing children to attend school.
|231||...there was an increasing tendency on the part of the Education Authorities and the general public to deal with school children apart from their parents; a tendency met by the Charity Organisation Society with a constant endeavour to supply the needs of the children by improving the position of their families.|
|249||Free education and free meal:|
From 1889 onwards we trace two lines of development in reference to the Care of School Children in London. There is first the action of the Education Authority---the School Board followed by the Education Committee of London County Council. This was concentrated upon the two questions of feeding and of remission of fees, and passed through the inevitable stages, on the one hand from self-supporting to free dinners, and from free dinners supplied by charity to free dinners supplied out of the rates; and on the other hand from partial remission of fees in cases of necessity to total remission in all cases. And secondly there is the line pursued by the Charity Organisation Society of careful inquiry into cases and groups of cases, with experiments as to the best way of assisting them, which resulted in the device of School Care Committees subsequently accepted by the Education Authority itself.
[...] we find in 1886 the London School Board inaugurating a new fee system, accordint to which applications for remission were to be dealt with by a meeting of a rota of managers who might require a detailed report on the circumstances of the applicant in proof of poverty. In 1889 the Board of Education issued instruction which threw the burden of proving ability to pay on the managers desiring to refuse remission, thus greatly increasing the difficulty of collection fees. Remission now became in many places the rule rather than the exception. [...]
|250||There was obviously no halting place between partial and total remission; and by the Elementary Education Act (1891) free education was practically established by the device of a special grant payable by Parliament in lieu of fees, called the fee grant.[...] the change was brought about by the constant pressure of the desire to secure better attendance.|
|251||[...] the next important development along this line [i.e. free meal] took place in and about 1905, when there was a general agitation in favour of the free maintenance of school children. The demand had received much  stimulus from the appointment of the Committee on Physical Deterioration, an appointment which---not unnaturally---was generally held to prove that Physical Deterioration was taking place. This unfortunate belief has prevailed until the present day, although one of the first results of the Committee's investigation was to demonstrate a marked improvement in the mass of the people. The chief interest taken in the enquiry centred round the question whether the children in the elementary schools should or should not receive free maintenance; much evidence of a very contradictory nature was taken, and the Committee reported in favour of school feeding, while neverthless explaining that the only true remedy for under-feeding was social eduction. A subsequent Inter-departmental Committee on School Feeding was more cautious, and recommended only that the feeding should be done more carefully.|
|Joanna Street School episode:|
This was a school in a low class district ... the scene of a raid...The leading exponents of the free maintenance policy---Lady Warwick, Sir John Gorst, Dr.Macnamara and Dr. Huchinson---suddenly descended upon it, satisfied themselves as to the miserable condition of many of the children... The Guardians undertook to enquire into the case, and for a time the Joanna Street School became the centre of the controversy. The many of the children attending the school were in a deplorable state of neglect and misery was incontrovertible; but the broad result of enquiries was to show thant the boys' deparment,  where much free feeding had taken place, showed a higher percentage of underfed children than the girls' department where there had been little free feeding....
[...] the socialists demanding free maintenance for all from the State; Sir John Gorst demanding free meals from the Guardians irrespective of the parents; and Dr. Macnamara demanding free meals from the Guardians with the cost recovered from the parents. ...
|253||Education (Provision of Meals) Act 1906:|
Next came the Education (Provision of Meals) Act 1906, which authorised Local Education Authorities to assist voluntary agencies in the provision of meals for children ... and in certain cases to defray the cost of the meals themselves. ...Great stress was laid by the supporter of the Act ... that enquiry should be made into the circumstances of the parents and the cost refunded by them whenever they were able to pay. In this way, ... all pauperisation would be avoided.
|266||Poor Law Reform:|
[...] the influence of the Society upon the working of the Poor Law ... It began with the Poor Law Minite of 1869, commonly known as Mr. Goschen Minute. It seems clear that if this document was not actually drafted in the office of the Society, it was neverthless the direct outcome of its deliberations and conclusion. ... the object of the Minute was to facilitate such co-operation and division of work between Charity and the Poor Law that each might perform its functions adequately without fear of overlapping and mutual interference. ... the establishment of district offices where registers should be kept and where representatives of local charities might obtain information about all persons who had received charitable or parochial relief, and thus be enabled to concentrate their help upon those who were not yet destitute.
|267||[Goschen Minute] was issued on November 20, 1869, when the first Committee of the Society were just getting to work; and on November 22nd it is reported to Council that Mr. Goschen's Secretary has visited its office.|
|274||Poor Law Administration:|
[...] the importance of a wise administration of the Poor law has always been one of its leading principles. Its workers have been in constant contact with the class which is maintained and assisted by Poor Law reliefm and have had ample opportunity of judging of the effects of such assistance at close quarters. They have seen their efforts to raise families to independence frustrated by an ill-conceived dole from the Guardians; they have seen the suffering sue to inadequate relief; they have watched the diverse effects of well-managed or ill-managed schools, infirmaries and workhouses; and they have learned how a change in the policy of a Borad of Guardians may alter the tone of a poor neighbourhood. Nor is their experience derived from outside only. Many of the Society's most honoured veterans ...  have spent their lives between the Board room and the Charity Organisation Office. It is these members whose weight of experience has mainly formed and guided the policy of the Society with reference to Poor Law administration. ... It is natural ... that when there has been any question of examining into or modifying the Poor Law, the Society has always been on the alert.
|276||Royal Commission of 1905:|
[...] The Commission included ... representatives of the most opposed schools of thought,as well as officials and volunteers actually participating in Poor Law administration. [COS] was represented by ... Mr.Loch, and five other members had been or still were active participators in its work. As there was balanced by five convinced Socialists it was a foregone conclusion that no general agreement could arrived at by the Commission; and its work was rendered doubly arduous by the necessity imposed upon it by the more combative members of struggling at every step forward whether the right foot or the left should occupy the ground. Each side called many witnesses to support its views, and [COS] was well represented in this way. It made great sacrifices also to promote the work of the Commission. ... its most valued Organising Secretary, Mr. Toynbee, [devoted] all his time for many months as Investigator for the Commission.
[...] many members of the Society were disappointed with the result. [Extract of Annual Report for 1908-1909].
|Co-operation with the Guardians:|
[...] Prima facie it seems to mean that the Society should supplement Poor Law relief, and they are surprised to find that this is regarded by the orthodox as one of the worst of offences. ... co-operation means mutual knowledge and a division of cases between the two agencies... .[See 279-280]
It was the anxious desire of the Society to mitigate the occasional hardship resulting from the restriction in Poor Law relief which led gradually to their undertaling the relief of chronic or "pension" cases.
|295||Old age pension as state intervention:|
[COS] has always been opposed to it, as it has to all plans for granting a stereotyped form of relief to large numbers of persons whose needs are very varying and only capable of being met by individual attention. To determine whether or no they were justified in their opposition it is not enough to point to a large number of person whose lives have neem made easier by the pensions. Economic and social forces have been brought into action by the arbitraru tranference of so many millions a year which will take time to work themselves out; and in oeder to judge rightly we should need to know whether the old people in years to come will be better off than they would othereise have been. And it should never be forgotten by critics of the Society that during the many years in which the agitation was being carried on it was, through its [DCs], organising on a steadlily increasing scale a system of allowances carefully adapted to the needs of each pensioner, and under konditions which guarded against the evils which they feared from a State scheme.
[...] a general responsibility in providing work for the unemployed ought not to be accepted by any public body; that as suitable employment is the only right method of maintaining the able-bodied all information relating the labour market should be obtained and rendered as accessible as possible; ... it should be left to the Poor Law authorities to provide labour tests for the able-bodied destitute poor; but ... the existing tests of our workhouses and labour yards were unsatisfactory, and should be so constituted as that by their operation that may improve and develop the moral and industrial capacities of the persons submitted to them, while the work done should managed so as to afford of its own true value an adequate relief to the persons employed and so prevent the levying od rates for the support od the able-bodied. ...
|307||... the employment of paupers in any industry that may be practicable should not be rejected on the ground of any supposed interference with the labour market; and ... as bety much of the unemployed or waste industrial power of the country had its origin in the deficient moreal and industrial training og the young, ... "the District Committee might be recommended to open registers of persons suitable for domestic service in each districtm and also ... a test and training establishment on a small scale might in some instances be desirable in such districts."|
An institution now became prominent in London philanthropy which combined most of the method wholesake charity against which the Charity Organisation Society had been striving. ... its relief-work cut at the root of all the teachings and endeacours of twenty years.
|348||... the dificulty of [the people in the East End] was made imeasurably worse by the encouragement to loafers, vagrants, and unemployed from all over the country to swarm into the district, and by the discouragement to the migration of superflous labour which popular philanthropy imposed upon them.|
[On their scheme of the "free bread and soup at midnight for homeless men" since 1904] ... even the semblance of preserving the independence of the recipients was abandoned ... one of the most cruel developments of sensational philanthropy which has ever been known.