Did the reforms address problems of want?

Poverty was seen as the key social problem which affected all others. A number of reforms were passed to address this 'giant'.

National Insurance Act, 1946

Details and successes

  • provided financial protection in the event of unemployment or sickness
  • applied to all adults
  • workers received 26 shillings a week (42 shillings for married men)
  • the elderly received pensions
  • financial assistance given for funeral arrangements
  • established standardised minimal living conditions for the employed

Limitations

  • criticised for the large number of officials who were needed to operate the scheme
  • welfare benefits in 1948 were only 19% of the average industrial wage - well below subsistence level
  • many more people than expected, particularly the elderly, were forced into applying for national assistance
  • in 1949, 48% of all national assistance went to supplement retirement pensions - this rose to 68% by the late 1950s
  • did not provide for those who were not in work and had not made contributions
  • 156 contributions were needed for cover to take effect

Industrial Injuries Act, 1946

Details and successes

  • compulsory for all employees
  • provided financial relief for those who were temporarily absent from work due to injury
  • industrial injury benefits paid at a higher rate than for ordinary sickness
  • provided financial relief for those absent long-term

Limitations

  • compensation was paid by the government not employers
  • the government footed the bill for injuries at work

National Assistance Act, 1948

Details and successes

  • provided financial assistance for the unemployed
  • provided for those who had not paid enough contributions into the National Insurance Scheme
  • provided for the elderly who had not been paying into the National Insurance Scheme during their lives
  • established standardised minimal living conditions for the unemployed.
  • National Assistance Boards were set up to help citizens with insufficient resources to meet their needs

Limitations

  • it was means-tested
  • the amount of financial assistance received depended on the amount of money/valuables belonging to a family or individual
  • benefits were set too low
  • many citizens remained below the subsistence level
  • many of the elderly were reluctant to apply for assistance, believing there was a stigma attached to it