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 Wilton Union.
Local Government Board - 1st Annual Report 1871-2
Appendix pages 213-214
Heads of Inquiry upon which information was given upon the Administration of Out-door Relief in the Wilton Union of Wiltshire.
I - There is occasionally a general revision of the lists, but they are not revised at any fixed periods.
II - The longest period for which relief is given is 6 months.
III - Sick cases are in some cases ordered relief during sickness in others for fixed periods not exceeding a month.
Widows with children are not given relief for more than six months at a time, but in practice the relief is ordered temporarily and the effect is that it goes on till the end of the half-year, unless the relieving officer specially reports the case to the Board.
Old and infirm chronic cases are given relief for periods not exceeding six months - 4s-6d and 7 loaves.
IV - The personal attendance of the applicant, unless prevented by illness, is required on original applications, and also on renewed applications, except in permanent cases. A fresh report is in all cases required from the relieving officer.
V - No steps are taken with regard to the attendance at school of out-door pauper children.
VII - The Guardians personally question the applicants, and in many cases, but not in the majority, their circumstances are personally known to some member of the Board.
VIIa - The relief is entered by the relieving officer in the Application and Report Book. The entries are copied by the clerk on the same day into the Relief Order Book.
IX - About one half of the total relief (including the relief recommended by the medical officer) is in kind.
X - The workhouse is offered to able-bodied applicants, to persons of drunken or incorrigibly idle habits, and to those who make a dishonest or suspicious statement to their officers. When offered as a test it is refused in the large majority of cases.
XI - Deserted wives are given out-relief unless collusion is suspected.The husband is prosecuted, but as a rule no reward is offered for his apprehension.
XII - Money derived from benefit clubs is taken into account at half its value in determining the amount of relief. Pensions are estimated at their full value.
XIII - Relief is granted in aid of earnings, but not to persons who are able to do a full day's work, and are in constant employment.
XIV - Relations, legally liable, are professedly compelled to contribute, but very rarely by actual legal proceedings.
XV - The provisions of the Prohibitory Order are strictly observed.
XVI - The medical officers do not attend the meetings of the Guardians except for special reasons.
XVII - The Guardians have no system of communication with persons administering charitable relief, but many of them are trustees of charitable endowments in Wilton, and know the persons who receive relief from that source.
Scale of Relief:-
Widows with children receive from 1s and a loaf to 1s-6d and a loaf for each child; nothing for themselves if able to work, but if unable to work they receive from 1s-6d and a loaf to 2s and a loaf for themselves.
An old man or woman receives from 2s to 2s-6d and a loaf.
An old couple receive from 4s to 5s and 2 loaves.
1 - There are two relief districts and two relieving officers.
2 - There are no assistant relieving officers.
3 - There is no pay clerk.
4 - The relieving officers do all the visiting, they do not keep a diary.
5 - Sick cases are generally visited once a week, never less than once a fortnight.
Widows with children are visited never less than once a month.
Old and infirm chronic cases are visited never less than once a month.
6 - The relieving officer does not as a rule visit the home of the applicant before giving an order for the workhouse.
7 - When the relieving officer gives temporary provisional relief, he visits first, except in urgent cases, when he visits afterwards, and never at a longer interval than 4 days. Such relief is always in kind, and is reported to the Guardians at their next meeting.
8 - The Guardians occasionally, but rarely, direct the officer to relieve at discretion. They require a report from him at their next meeting.
9 - The relieving officers visit at uncertain times and unexpectedly.
10,11 etc. (Mode of payment) The poor are paid in most cases at their own homes, or at the home of some person in receipt of relief. In Wilton they are paid in the Town Hall, and at one other place in a room in a private house, for which the Guardians pay £1 a year.
If the head of the family, or wife, if married, is unable to come in person for the relief, it is sent by a neighbour, but not by any person nor previously known to the relieving officer. When relief in any case is frequently sent in this way the relieving officer makes inquiries from time to time to ascertain whether it has been properly received. The relieving officer believes that in a few cases the neighbour receives a penny or half=penny for taking it.
Bread baked by the Guardians is taken round by the relieving officer in a van.
Weights and scales are taken round with the van.
All other relief in kind is given by tickets on tradesmen.
17 - There is no dispensary for out-door poor in the Union.
18 - The relieving officers have fixed hours at each of the relief stations.
Area in acres 23,845 - Population in 1861 5,770.
Maximum number of cases in receipt of relief in any one week 301 - persons 500.
Minimum number of cases 282 - persons 464.
Signed - David Thos. Dyke - Relieving Officer
Area in acres 31,459 - Population in 1861 4,904.
Maximum number of cases in receipt of relief in any one week 268 - persons 489.
Minimum number of cases 241 - persons 389.
Signed - Thomas Webb - Relieving Officer