On this day in history : 15th July 1912 – The beginning of National Insurance payments in Britain, after the introduction of the National Insurance Act 1911, by the Government….

1914-15 National Insurance card – Public domain

The Act was one of the first steps towards the creation of the Welfare State – the aim being to provide a benefit scheme funded by contributions from employed persons and their employers…. It had first been proposed in 1908 in David Lloyd George’s ‘The People Budget’…. At the time the proposal was to fund the scheme through general taxation – with a reform to income tax and plans for old age pensions….

All workers between 16 and 70 were obliged to pay 4d per week, employers paid 3d per employee and the State contributed a further 2d…. In return employees got free medical care and advice and were entitled to an unemployment ‘dole’ benefit of 7 shillings per week up to 15 weeks of the year…. Special stamps would be bought from the Post Office and affixed to contribution cards, providing proof of entitlement to benefits…. Thus originates the saying to be ‘given your cards’ when facing dismissal from a job….

Public domain

In the early days the scheme was run by voluntary friendly societies – approved and underwritten by the Government and was regulated by four insurance commissions…. In 1919 power was passed to the new Ministry of Health and the system was nationalised in 1945 with the creation of the Ministry for National Insurance….

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