Concept

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Summary
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is a charity that conducts and funds research aimed at solving poverty in the UK. JRF's stated aim is to "inspire action and change that will create a prosperous UK without poverty." Originally called the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust, it was founded by English businessman Joseph Rowntree in 1904. Rowntree, a Quaker, was a long-standing philanthropist and with his brother developed a confectionery company, Rowntree's. He established the foundation in order to investigate the root causes of social problems. In its current form, the foundation works with private, public and voluntary sectors, as well as impoverished people. It is politically neutral and independent from all UK political parties. JRF was established in 1904 by Joseph Rowntree to understand the root causes of social problems. Joseph was a visionary Quaker businessman and social reformer. Watching his father set-up a York soup kitchen in the mid-1800s helped Joseph to realise that such actions were not comprehensive enough. This led to a shift in the Rowntrees' social action, from treating the symptoms to addressing the root causes of poverty. Joseph gave away half of his own fortune to set up various trusts; he was committed to understanding the causes of poverty and disadvantage in order to create a better society. He built New Earswick, a village in York, for people on low incomes, giving them access to decent homes at affordable rents. Joseph's son, Seebohm Rowntree, was also a pioneering social researcher who undertook one of the country’s first investigations into poverty. Poverty, A Study of Town Life (1901) influenced the Liberal Government's introduction of Old Age Pensions (1908) and National Insurance (1911) as a means of protecting people from insecurity. His further studies of York (in 1936 and 1951) demonstrated the increasing effectiveness of welfare measures in anchoring the citizens of York in times of hardship. Seebohm Rowntree's surveys were pivotal in a line of intellectual thinking that ended with Beveridge’s Welfare State.
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