16th December 1911
National Insurance Act
The 1911 National Insurance Act set up the first national systems for unemployment and sickness benefit. The chancellor of the exchequer, David Lloyd George set out a scheme of health insurance for those in employment, which would provide payment to cover medical treatment. The government paid two ninths of these fees; the remainder was made up by insurance. Employers contributed to a fund to provide sickness payments to their workers. The act also provided time-limited payments to unemployed workers in certain industries.
The 1911 act was part of a wider programme of social reforms by the Liberal government of 1906 - 1914. It had a major impact on social welfare: it removed the stigma of unemployed workers having to rely on payments made through the poor law, or having to enter the harsh and degrading environment of the workhouse.