Extracted from the Devon County Council website:
The Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834:
"The harsh measures introduced by the Poor Law Amendment Act made confinement to the workhouse the central mechanism of poor relief. Furthermore, it directed administrators to discourage paupers from seeking relief by making workhouses as unpleasant as possible. From now on, married couples entering the workhouse were separated and children taken away from their parents.
The Act also completed the work of Gilbert’s Act in the formation of Poor Law Unions. All parishes were now made part of larger unions, each union supervising a workhouse. The unions themselves were administered by Board of Guardians, though parish vestries remained responsible for levying poor rates for the upkeep of workhouses.
Poor Relief in the 20th Century:
With the advent of the 20th century and the growth of trades unions and the socialist movement, attitudes towards the poor had begun to change. The National Insurance Act of 1911 brought about the first provisions of social security. Two years later, workhouses were officially renamed Poor Law Institutions. The Local Government Act of 1929 abolished Boards of Guardians as well as the term ‘pauper’; it also transferred the powers of the Guardians to local authorities such as County Councils and encouraged local boroughs to convert workhouses into infirmaries. By 1946 the modern framework of social security benefits was established."