The National Insurance Act 1911: three perspectives, one policy

Article

Hugh Gault, last updated: 1st February 2013

Background

Sandwiched between the Parliament Act and the Home Rule Act, the National Insurance Act 1911 is easily overlooked and often forgotten. Yet, as Gilbert has pointed out, it was critical both of itself and as the foundation for social legislation up to current times. It came into force on 15 July 1912 when contributions began to be collected and full operation from January 1913, almost exactly one hundred years ago. Introduced by a radical Liberal government to safeguard the most vulnerable from the poverty and despair that unemployment and sickness could bring, they were not the first to judge existing mechanisms degrading and ineffective. The churches and others thought it their charitable duty to dispense alms to offset the worst effects...

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