Reforms to help the elderly

Old Age Pension Act, 1908

Details and successes

  • people over 70 with annual income less than £21 per year, received a pension of five shillings per week
  • a smaller amount was paid to those earning over £21 but under £31.50 per year
  • a married couple received 7s and 6d per week
  • the pension was collected at the Post Office
  • by 1914, one million people were receiving a pension


  • those who earned over £31.50 per year did not receive a pension
  • pension was only available to British people who had lived in the UK for 20 years
  • those imprisoned in the last 10 years were not eligible
  • those detained under the Inebriates Act in the last 10 years were not eligible
  • people deemed to have avoided work were not eligible
  • many pensioners had no birth certificate to prove their age
  • the pension was not enough to survive on
  • many died from hardship before they reached 70

The major criticism of this Act was that it did not go far enough. The cash pension they received was not enough to enable the elderly to pay for the barest necessities. Further, many elderly people needed financial help long before they reached 70 years of age.