Alan Longbottom has transcribed from the 1st Annual Report of the Local Government Board 1871-72, pages 103 to 224, detailed information regarding Reports upon the administration of Out-door Relief in 70 Unions in the South of England. Here are the details for the Mere Union.
Local Government Board 1st Annual Report 1871-2
Appendix pages 212-213
Heads of Inquiry upon which information was given upon the Administration of Out-door Relief in the Mere Union of Wiltshire.
I - There is no general revision of the lists at any fixed periods. The permanent cases are revised about once a year; other cases come before the Board at the expiration of the time for which relief has in the first instance been granted.
II - The longest period for which relief is granted is till further orders..
III - Sick cases are given relief during sickness and when the medical relief ceases, the general relief ceases also. - :Widows with children are given relief for six months. - Old and infirm chronic cases are given relief till further orders..
IV - The personal attendance of the applicant is required, unless ill or at work. A fresh report from the relieving officer is required on every application.
V - The school pence are not paid by the Guardians, but the relieving officer would report if he found children of school age kept at home.
VII - The Guardians personally question the applicants, and in almost every case their circumstances are personally known to some member of the Board.
VIIa - The chairman enters the relief in the Application and Report Book, and the clerk in the Relief Order Book.
IX - About one-third of the total relief is given in kind.
X - The workhouse is offered to all able-bodied applicants, to persons of drunken or incorrigibly idle habits, and to those who make a dishonest or suspicious statement to the Guardians or their officers. When offered as a test not one in 20 accept it.
XI - Deserted wives are as a rule offered the workhouse, but are in a few cases allowed out-relief. The husband is prosecuted; no reward is offered for his apprehension.
XII - Money from benefit clubs is looked on favourably, and about three-fourths of it is not taken into account in determining the amount of relief. Cases of pensions very rarely occur.
XIII - Relief is given in aid of earnings to widows and aged persons; not to any who are in regular and constant employment.
XIV - Relations, legally liable, are compelled to contribute, and legal proceedings are taken whenever they are likely to be successful.
XV - The provisions of the Prohibitory Order are strictly observed.
XVI - The medical officers do not attend any meetings of the Guardians unless specially desired to do so.
XVII - The Guardians have no system of communication with persons administering charitable relief.
Scale of Out-door Relief (adopted by the Board).
Old and Infirm
|Single man (wholly disabled)||2s-0d to 2s-6d and 1 loaf|
|Single woman (wholly disabled)||2s-0d and 1 loaf|
|Man and wife (wholly disabled)||3s-6d to 4s-0d and 2 loaves|
Able-bodied in Sickness
|Man or woman (paying their own lodgings)||2s-0d and 1 loaf|
|Man or woman (with no lodging to pay)||1s-6d and 1 loaf|
|Man and wife||3s-6d to 4s-0d and 2 loaves|
|With 1 child||4s-0d and 3 loaves|
|With 2 children||4s-0d and 4 loaves|
|With 3 children||4s-0d and 5 or 6 loaves|
|With 4 children||4s-0d and 6 or7 loaves|
|With 5 children||4s-6d and 7 or 8 loaves|
|With 6 children||4s-6d and 8 or 9 loaves|
|Widows with Families|
|Woman||1s-6d and 1 loaf|
|With 1 child||2s-6d and 2 loaves|
|With 2 children||3s-0d and 3 loaves|
|With 3 children||3s-6d and 4 loaves|
|With 4 children||3s-6d to 4s-0d and 5 loaves|
|With 5 children||4s-0d to 4s-6d and 6 loaves|
|With 6 children||[figure omitted]|
|Families of Widows who support themselves|
|1 child||1s-0d and 1 or 2 loaves|
|2 children||2s-0d and 2 or 3 loaves|
|3 children||3s-0d and 3 or 4 loaves|
|4 children||3s-6d and 4 or 5 loaves|
|5 children||3s-6d and 5 or 6 loaves|
|6 children||4s-0d and 6 or 7 loaves|
|Orphans||1s-6d and 1 loaf|
1 There is one relief district and one relieving officer.
2 There is no assistant relieving officer.
3 There is no pay clerk.
4 The relieving officer does all the visiting; he does not keep a diary.
5 Sick cases are visited never less than once a fortnight; generally once a week, and sometimes oftener.
Widows are visited generally once a month; never less than twice in 3 months.
Old and Infirm chronic cases are visited never less than once a quarter.
6 The relieving officer visits before giving an order for the workhouse, except in cases well known to him, and in cases of extreme urgency. He reports the case to the Board at their next meeting.
7 The relieving officer visits at the time of giving temporary provisional relief. Such relief is always in kind, and is reported to the Guardians at their next meeting.
8 The Guardians frequently direct the relieving officer to relieve at discretion. They require a report from him at each ensuing meeting.
9 The relieving officer visits at uncertain times and unexpectedly.
10,11 (Mode of Payment) In three parishes the poor are paid in a room belonging to a benefit club, for which the Guardians pay 6d a week. The room belongs to a public house, but is detached from it and Is under a separate roof. In Mere the poor are paid at a relief office in the relieving officer's house. In other places they are paid in a room in a cottage for which the Guardians pay 6d a week, the cottage in one case being the home of a pauper.
When the head of the family, or the wife, is unable to come in person for the relief it is generally sent by some neighbour in receipt of relief. The relieving officer inquires from time to time to ascertain that it has been properly received, and would not intrust it to any person not previously known to him.
No pauper has to come more than 2 and a quarter miles to receive relief.
Bread, not baked by the Guardians, is taken round in the contractor's cart, and meets the relieving officer at each relief station. Weights and scales are taken round with it.
17 There is no dispensary for out-door poor in the Union.
18 The relieving officer is at home until 10 a.m, and has fixed hours at each relief station.
Area - 33,245 acres: Population 8,056.
Maximum number of cases in receipt in any one week 371 : of persons, 645.
Minimum number of cases 340 ; of persons 516.
Note :- The above numbers are taken from the year ended September 1870.
Signed - Val. H. Norris - Relieving Officer