"One of the effects of the Speenhamland System was that ratepayers often found themselves subsidising the owners of large estates who paid poor wages. It was not unknown for landowners to demolish empty houses in order to reduce the population on their lands and also to prevent the return of those who had left. At the same time, they would employ labourers from neighbouring parishes: these people could be laid off without warning but would not increase the rates in the parish where they worked. Farmers often were the same men who paid low wages and laid off workers; consequently, subsidising wages through poor relief drove wages down even further. What was intended as a safety net ended up causing many more problems."
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