Lord Mayor's War Relief Fund
The fund was established in August 1914 to help support wives and dependants of soldiers and sailors called upon to serve their country
A National War Relief Fund was established by the Prince of Wales and he asked that local funds also be created. On Sunday August 11th, 7 days after Britain declared war the Lord Mayor of Bradford called together those who had previously had a connection with the Boer War Fund with the aim of establishing a similar fund for the current war.
They aimed to keep the dependants of the soldiers and sailors in as good a position as they were before the breadwinner signed up. Dependants were given a sum that made up the difference between the mans pay as a soldier plus any separation or other allowances or grants received and the average weekly wage the man received at the time of enlistment less a sum of 7s per week as there was one less mouth to feed.
Applicants had to fill in a form and enquiries and checks into applications were made by police officers. All dependants would have to work if health permitted and were to notify the fund if they commenced work.
A Ladies Committee was formed so that every household receiving help may be visited and in kindly manner advised on how to make present incomes go further.
One month into the war and the fund had already received nearly 2,500 applications and over 300 visits had been undertaken.
Details were provided on the different scales of relief allowed to different types of dependants e.g. married women, unmarried women, women with child, women who married while the man is serving etc.
Docket books were filled in entitling a person to purchase foodstuffs on credit and was also used to cover rent.
Other help available included free school meals, medical aid, maternity aid and for a time free coke. The fund also helped towards funeral expenses. Bradford's Cinderella Club provided clothing and clogs for the children.
In September 1914 a Special Cases Sub Committee was established to reconsider exceptional cases put forward by the lady visitors.
The scale of relief was regularly debated and amended. The committee was often petitioned by Trade Associations to increase that grants which they considered to be inadequate.
The fund was financed by public generosity so any increases in grants were difficult if not matched by increased contributions. However the cost of living was increasing and the grants were based on wages at time of enlistment and therefore did not take account of pay rises that would have been received if the man had stayed at home. A Complaints Committee was established in May 1917 to investigate all complaints against the administration of the fund.
When the war ended the committee continued its work, it was unhappy with the way in which demobilization was undertaken and the delay’s in processing pensions.
The district committees were scaled back on the 19th June 1919 leaving one central committee. Widows were no longer to receive grants after the 1st December 1919 as war pensions were then established. However the committee continued to make other grant payments up until 1948.