29th April 1909

The People's Budget

The budget of 1909 introduced by David Lloyd George, the chancellor of the exchequer, came to be known as the 'People's Budget'.

The budget raised taxes on unearned income and death duties to fund the increased cost of defending the empire, but also to meet the increase in social services, such as old age pensions. Lloyd George described it as a budget ‘to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness’.

It was seen by many of the ruling elite as a declaration of war against them. It was also deeply unpopular in Ireland with distillers and publicans as it raised the tax on liquor licences, spirits and tobacco.

The budget was not passed by the Lords. This caused a constitutional crisis. The Liberals resolved to remove the power to veto legislation from the House of Lords. They called a general election in January 1910 and were returned with a reduced majority, which meant they once again had to rely on the Irish Parliamentary Party for support.

Parliament, Welfare, Nationalism
British Conservative Party poster satirising David Lloyd George and the 'People's Budget'.
The Conservative Party Archive/Getty Images