A Note on the Law of Settlement and Removal as it affected Local Government in England and Wales in 1939

(Chapter XII)

Every person becoming destitute and in need of relief is primarily chargeable to the county of county borough in which he falls destitute, but if he has no settlement there the council of that area can transfer the liability for the cost of relief granted to that person to the area in which he may be settled, unless he is irremovable from their area.

The law relating to settlements and removability, which is very complex, is contained in part III, i.e. sections 84–190 of the Poor Law Act, 1930. The following is a brief summary of the law.

A person is deemed to be settled in the county or county borough in which he is born (subject to certain restrictions and modifications) until a later settlement can be established. Such later settlement may

  1. be derived from a parent or a husband.
  2. be acquired by residence, apprenticeship, estate, renting a tenement, or the payment of rates and taxes, or
  3. be presumed by reason of estoppel

A settlement by residence is acquired by residence in the same county or county borough for three complete consecutive years, and residence in each of the years must be such as to create a status of irremovability.

A person is irremovable from any county or county borough if he has resided in that area for one year, but any time during which he is in receipt of poor relief, is serving in His Majesty's Forces, or is in prison, in a mental hospital or in certain other classes of institutions is excluded in the computation of time.

The transfer of liability from the council of the area in which relief is given to the area of settlement can be effected by the bodily removal of the destitute person to the area of settlement, or by obtaining an order for such removal and not executing it, but, armed with it, obtaining the agreement of the council in the area of settlement to a repayment of the cost of relief granted.

Much of the hardship which would be caused to poor persons if the law of settlement and removal were strictly enforced is in practice avoided by mutual arrangements between many councils under which able-bodied outdoor poor and other classes of poor are relieved in the area which they reside without bodily removal.


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