A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

3 2 4 3 5 4


1. Pooling, giving and taking of coupons

Pooling of clothing coupons (page 5). 70% of men pool their coupons with their families, the range within the occupational groups being 51% for agriculturists and 82% for slate quarry workers. Pooling is less common with women, only 53% pooling coupons, the range being 42% for distributive workers and 66% for those in iron and steel manufacture. “One-person families” and age (page 67) should be examined in this connection.

Supplementary awards of coupons (page 6). Substantial proportion of workers who have received awards are found in iron and steel manufacture (56% of men and 36% of women), ironstone (22%) and slate quarries (16%). Very small proportions of workers in the other groups have the benefit of a supplementary award.

Coupons received by the worker from his family (page 7). A proportion of workers in each group, varying from 1% to 22%, could not answer this question. Women were more often able to answer than men. The average number of coupons received varies from 4.8 for men distributive workers, to 16.5 for slate quarry men, and from 6.9 for women distributive workers, to 28.5 for women in iron and steel manufacture. The proportion of men who received coupons from their families is 49%. A greater proportion of women, 56% received coupons. The average number of coupons received by workers from their families is much greater than the number they have given.

Which members of the family gave coupons? (page 8).14% of men and 7% of women could not answer this question. It is shown that men received coupons from their wives more than from any other member of the family: women, however, received more coupons from their parents than from their husbands. Children seem to have contributed a substantial number to both men and women workers. Clothing of which these contributing members had gone short as a result is tabulated on the same page. A proportion of workers could not answer the question. Children’s clothing is notably high.

Coupons given to the family by the worker, (page 9). Again a large proportion could not answer the question. The average number of coupons given is small, being .9 over all groups for men and 1.2 over all groups for women. The proportion of workers giving coupons is also small, being. 14% for men and 10% for women.

Members of the family using workers’ coupons (page 9). Women workers given coupons spent them mainly on children, men workers on their wives and children.

2. Coupon requirements

Workers, when asked what they considered a year’s clothing requirements for their job, gave estimates varying from 181 to 120 coupons for the men’s occupations, and from 196 to 91 coupons for the women’s occupations. Although no great reliance can be placed on the absolute value of these estimates, the series of correlations given on pages 11 and 12 shows a relative significance between the occupations. Estimated requirements correlate with damage to clothing (page 11), with proportions of workers unable to meet essential requirements from their present allocation of coupons (page 11): with the net intake of coupons by workers from their families (page 12): and with the spending of coupons for the first ten months of the rationing year (page ). The question of whether any occupational group should be given an award, and if so, the number of coupons it should receive, is outside the scope of this survey; but the information which it has produced should prove helpful in deciding relative needs between the groups. The estimated requirements for particular garments are summarised for men and women on pages 13 and 14, and a complete tabulation for each group on pages 35 to US of the appendix.

Ability to obtain essential requirements with the present allocation of coupons (page 15). The percentage of workers unable to meet essential requirements with their coupons is 76% of men, 81% of women, with occupational variations. To the question “If you are unable to meet your requirements, what do you need that you cannot get?” the answers of men were: protective garments, footwear, suits, trousers, jackets, shirts, underwear and socks. For women, the clothes most needed were: protective garments, overcoats or raincoats, stockings, underwear and footwear.

Quantity of clothing bought now as compared with the year before rationing (page 16). Among men an average of 12% buy more clothes, 37% as many clothes and 51% fewer clothes. Among women 28% buy more, 20% as many, and 52% fewer clothes. Those buying more clothes do so mainly because their work is heavier or dirtier or entails longer hours than formerly. This is particularly so among women engineering machinists and women in heavy engineering, and in iron and steel manufacture. The greater proportion of those buying fewer clothes do so because of the restrictions imposed by the coupon system.

Quality of clothes (page 17). One in four or five workers say the quality of clothes has remained the same, the majority that the quality has gone down.

3. Spending of Clothing Coupons

Preliminary estimates of numbers of coupons spent (in answer to Question 3) are given on page 23. These figures are not necessarily the same as the answers to Question 12, where the worker gave an account of coupons spent on each kind ot garment, with due consideration and under continual questioning by the investigator. The answers to Question 12 are therefore more reliable. In all cases averages are worked out on the number able to answer the question.

The average expenditure for men of all groups is 77 coupons, and for women of all groups 80 coupons, for the period covered by the survey, i.e. from 1st June, 1941, to the mid-point of the investigation, 6th April, 1942. Spending, item by item, is shown on page 20 for men and page 21 for women. Average expenditure of these special groups is compared, on page 22, with the expenditure of a normal sample of the population.

Budgeting of clothing purchases, (page 24). A question was put to the worker as to whether he bought clothes haphazardly or whether he planned and saved up for them. 58% of men and 61% of women replied that they planned their purchases.

Stock of clothes when rationing began (page 25). The result of asking this question shows that 38% of men workers were well stocked when rationing began, 47% fairly stocked 15% poorly stocked. The result for women is not very different, 32% being well stocked, 50% fairly stocked, and 18% poorly stocked. By occupation, ironstone quarry workers had the greatest proportion who were poorly stocked i.e, 28%. This question has been cross-connected with the number of coupons spent and it is interesting to see that the better the worker was stocked when rationing began, the less coupons he has spent.

Acquirement of clothes other than by normal purchase. Clothes obtained secondhand (page 26) supplied by employer (page 27), passed on from friend or A tabulation showing the small number of coupons given for clothes obtained in these ways is on page 29. The aggregate of these figures supports the estimated requirements.

Clothes needed especially for work (page 30). As put forward on pages 18 most, if not all clothes bought or otherwise acquired by workers are directly or indirectly for work. This tabulation gives the percentage of workers mentioning each kind of garment.

Clothing Clubs (page 31). Investigators reported that workers were not always willing to answer this question, and therefore the results should be taken with some reserve. All kinds of garments are available through Clothing Clubs, but no great proportion of workers in any group use them.

Intended purchase of clothing with remaining coupons (page 32). The percentage of workers intending to buy garments is itemised in this table, and shows the intended purchases to be of clothes mainly in connection with work.

4. Damage to clothing

Nearly all workers state that their work causes damage to their clothes (page 33). The average number of complaints per worker is used on page 34. as an index of severity of occupational damage to clothes. This index shows that workers in the distributive trades run less risks with their clothes than in any other of the groups dealt with, their indices being for women 1.15 and for men 1 16 Ironstone quarry workers run the greatest risks, with an index of 3.14. Tables showing the percentages of workers complaining of the different kinds of damage, the causes of damage, given for each occupational group on pages 50 to 63.

Shortages or difficulties (other than those due to coupons or money) in obtaining clothes necessary for work are not dealt with in this report.

Other information on the sample

The average number of people in workers’ families is shown on page 67 to be 3.59. On the same page is shown the average ages of workers, and percentage distribution. in ten-year groups. The age was usually given by the worker, but in some cases was estimated, by the investigator. The average age of women was 30 years, and of men 40 years.

Wages. For particulars of the great variation of wages as given by the worker see page 68. Previous employment of women is given on the same page, the table showing that iron and steel manufacturing was the occupation in which was the largest number - nearly 50% - of women whose previous employment was that of housewife; heavy engineering, the distributive trades and agriculture accounted for about 40%; while engineering, machinists with only 28% had the least number.

Sanitary Knickers

Approximately 22% of women in the three groups dealt with in this supplementary enquiry used sanitary knickers, the majority buying them every four to six months, 30% pay up to 3/- for them, 69% up to 4/11½d, the remainder higher prices. 30% of women said they were having difficulty in obtaining them; 94% of these said it was because supplies were not available.

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close