The Means Test and the Unemployed in south Wales and the north-east of England, 1931–1939

Ward, Stephanie
April 2008
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Apr2008, Vol. 73 Issue 1, p113
Academic Journal
In November 1931, a household means test was introduced as a requirement for unemployment benefit for those unemployed who had received twenty-six weeks' insurance payments. The test was the most controversial piece of unemployment legislation introduced in the interwar period and it provoked a massive outcry. While many of the larger marches against the Means Test have been explored, there has been little attempt to analyse the wider response to the measure. This article redresses this balance by discussing the effects of and the response to the Means Test in two regions with striking similarities; south Wales and the north-east of England. These were two of the worst affected areas during the industrial depression and how the local authorities, political parties, trade unions, unemployed organisations and the unemployed themselves reacted to the imposition of the Means Test is here examined.


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