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Timeline :: National Insurance Act

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The National Insurance Act of 1911 was a key component in the reforms of social welfare passed by the Liberal Government between 1906 and 1915. The Act set up a system of health insurance for industrial workers in Britain based on contributions from employers, the government, and workers themselves. It was only available to workers; there was no financial help for dependants (wives or children). It also provided unemployment insurance for those workers who worked in designated cyclical industries. The Act has been celebrated as one of the foundations of the modern welfare state, however the social policy academic, Richard Titmuss, writing in 1951 commented that it required 'an expensive administrative machine, part of whose function is to check the premium record before millions of benefit payments are made' (1951: 21).

Source: Titmuss, R.M. (1951) 'Social Administration in a Changing Society', Inaugural lecture at LSE, reprinted in Titmuss, R.M. (1958) Essays on 'The Welfare State', London: Unwin University Books.