Incremental growth
Instructional Centres under the National Government
in Working men’s bodies
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Under the National Government, the Ministry of Labour’s control over work camps grew, as did its scale. While recruitment was voluntary once more, the number of camps and training places were expanded, and the scheme was opened up to all long-term unemployed males. Its main focus continued to be ‘reconditioning’ through heavy manual labour. The creation of the Unemployment Assistance Board brought the remaining municipal labour colonies under the control of central government, and increased the civil service professional cadre concerned with training. A number of policy-makers continued to press for compulsory recruitment (workfare) but this was resisted by the training professionals, who preferred the more relaxed discipline of voluntary recruits. There was increasing attention to measuring and analysing the physical changes brought about by ‘reconditioning’. However, placement rates were low after training, and the majority of trainees returned to unemployment. In its own terms, the scheme must be judged a failure. The camps closed in 1939.

Working men’s bodies

Work camps in Britain, 1880–1940


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