by Oliver Cosgrove (guest author) on 7 February, 2011
In 1950, in the United Kingdom (UK), the House of Commons Select Committee on Estimates reported that on average it cost £5.51 to keep a child with a local authority and £1.81 to board him/her out. However, page 7 of the Western Australian Child Welfare Department Annual Report to Parliament for Year Ending 30 June 1952 shows that the UK Government paid a subsidy for each child migrant sent to Australia of only 12 shillings and 6 pence!
The Pacific Exchange Rate, which shows the shows the currency conversions for each year 1948 to 2009, states that the GBP was worth $2.52. Halve that to get 10 shillings and you get $AUS1.26. Quarter the 10 shillings to get 2 shillings and 6 pence = 32 cents. So, the equivalent today is $AUS1.26 + 32 cents. = $AUS1.58. So there! The Great British Government was paying $1.58 per week to board a kid out in the Great Brown. Never let it be said that the British loved its poor!
In June 1998, in a submission to the UK Health Committee Inquiry into Child Migration, Dr Barbara Kahn OBE stated:
In 1950, only about two years after the new Departments were set up, a Select Committee on Estimates report pointed out that they were costing more than anticipated.
It was also around 1951–52 (?) to the best of my recollection, that there was a debate in the House of Commons when certain MPs urged the Government to put pressure on “these sticky fingered Children’s Officers” who were reluctant to emigrate their children. These are the words that remain in my mind. My memory is that one MP told the House they should know that whereas it then cost £5 a week for a child to be in care in Britain, if they were emigrated the cost to Britain would only be 10 shillings.
(Dr Barbara Kahn’s full submission may be read here)