Posts Tagged ‘Old-Age Pensions’

Liberal Election Poster for 1909 Unemployment and Health Insurance

April 24, 2016

Yesterday I put up two photos from Rosemary Rees’ book, Poverty and Public Health 1815-1948 (London: Heinemann 2001). One showed a queue of mostly children waiting for charity hand-outs of food from the early 20th century. I said that this was still very relevant as such queues had returned with the appearance of food banks in the 21st. We are now in a period in which 4.7 million people in Britain are in ‘food poverty’.

Disgusting.

The other was of the very first person to draw an old age pension from 1909. I said that it should be an iconic picture, as it marks the beginning of the welfare state, which Cameron’s Tories are doing their level best to destroy.

This is another picture that also deserves to be a well-known icon, and is about the same subject. Entitled ‘The Dawn of Hope’ it urges the British public to support the Liberal government and their introduction of national health and unemployment insurance in 1909. Although it’s for the Liberal, rather than the Labour or other Socialist party, it marks the beginning of the modern welfare state. Which as I said, the Tories hate with a passion and are doing their utmost to demolish. This poster should be up everywhere as a symbol of what Cameron, Osbo, IDS and the rest of their coterie of toffs and factory masters are attacking through benefit sanctions, privatised ‘workplace’ pensions and the privatisation of the NHS.

We cannot let them.

Liberal Insurance Pic

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Photo of First Person to Draw an Old Age Pension

April 23, 2016

One of the other illustrations in Rosemary Rees’ book, Poverty and Public Health 1815-1948, is this photograph from 1909 of the first person to draw their pension. Pensions were first introduced by the Liberal government, and they were paid through the Post Office as a way of avoiding the stigma of poor relief. This should be an iconic image of the necessity of providing decent pensions to our senior citizens.

Drawing First Pension

The Tories are trying to undermine state pensions, by forcing people to take out ‘workplace pensions’, private pensions which are neither as generous nor as easy to draw as normal state pensions. It’s another case of the Tories rewarding their friends and paymasters in big business. They’ve also moved the goal posts on pensions by raising the pensionable without giving sufficient notice so that people could plan to support themselves between the time they believed they could retire and the real pension age.

Mike over at Vox Political posted up a piece from Lizzie Cornish, a ‘pensionless pensioner’. Mdm Cornish retired at 60, which was the normal pensionable age for women. Then the government raised the age to 66. She is 61, and has spent a year without pension, and fears that she cannot survive the next five. She explains that she’s been caught out precisely because of the way the government raised the age without telling anyone they were planning to do so, thus giving them time to prepare.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/22/pensionless-pensioner-brands-uk-government-most-brutal-regime-in-living-memory/

Mike has repeatedly described the policy of the Tories towards the poor, the disabled and the unemployed as ‘chequebook euthanasia’, like the Nazis’ murder of the congenitally disabled. It’s done in order to save money and provide tax cuts for the rich. Mdm. Cornish and the thousands of women like her provide further evidence that the Dave Cameron, Osbo, IDS and their replacements really don’t care about the mass deaths they are causing. It just another blow to the system of pensions inaugurated by the Liberals, and drawn by the chap above for the first time in 1909.

G.D.H. Cole on the Demand for Welfare Reform and Its Use by the Tories

March 8, 2016

I found this piece by the radical Socialist G.D.H. Cole on the rising demand for the introduction of increased welfare provision in his 1942 book, Great Britain in the Post-War World (London: Victor Gollancz 1942).

Social reformers naturally echo this mood. The greater part of the progressive legislation of recent years has had to do with the removal or mitigation of the terrible insecurity which besets the lives of men; and programmes of progressive parties follow the same trend. Old age pensions, workmen’s pensions, health insurance, unemployment insurance, widow’s pensions, the assistance board, and many more specialised reforms are examples of the growth of what is sometimes called ‘eleemosynary’ legislation; and the demands for family allowances, guaranteed minimum wages, a national medical service, and a general tuning up of the existing social services figure largely in the reconstruction programmes of advanced parties, and seem likely to appeal to conservative opinion as well, as still the best way of foiling demands for more radical social change. it is widely felt that as long as capitalism can continue to make the concessions in the direction of social security, a large part of the electorate will rest content with the general structure of things as they are, and the more fundamental proposals for social change will meet with no great response among the main body of the people. (pp. 136-7).

Cole was writing while Beveridge was still working on his Report, and that passage shows the great demand there was from working people for what became the Welfare State. He’s also right in that the left wing of the Tory party did support it, although there was still opposition to it within Tory ranks. And Owen Jones made much the same point as Cole in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, when he described how a Tory MP visiting Oxford confessed that his party hung on to power by conceding ‘just enough’ to satisfy the working class hunger for change.

Since then, the Tories have found, following Thatcher, that they were able to repeal all the reforms that have benefited the working class over the past half-century and more, and since Thatcher have been trying to privatise the health service. It stands in the way of corporate profit, and they have learned that they can roll back welfare provision if they maintain the illusion that they are somehow retaining or reforming it at the same time.

And so they’re destroying not just the health service and the welfare state, and plunging millions into poverty, in order to restore the corporate order and social hierarchy.

Lloyd George’s Pensions Act and How the Treasury Tries to Make Welfare Take-Up Difficult

February 24, 2016

One of the things I’ve noticed is that as soon as a government roll out some new form of welfare benefit, there’s almost always an attempt immediately either to block it, or to make sure that spending on it is kept as low as possible, and that as few people as possible take it up. In the case of the Tories, this is part of the whole point of these reforms: they’re too make sure as few people qualify for the benefit as possible, but make it appear as though they’re still somehow giving help to the poor. Hence increased benefit cuts, disguised with verbiage about how benefits are being raised in real terms, or else they’re reforming the system so that its geared towards those who really need it. Or some other such nonsense.

In the case of the Labour party, opposition to increased welfare spending seems almost always to come from the Treasury, which immediately makes a statement about the need to preserve spending limits, and recommends amendments to make sure that expenditure is lower than that actually desired by those who formulated the reform. This has been going on for a very long time, almost as long as welfare benefits were introduced. Lloyd George’s pension reforms of 1908 were similarly criticised and modified by the Treasury.

Asquith, Lloyd-George’s predecessor at the Treasury under Campbell-Bannerman, had promised to introduce non-contributory state pensions in 1906. This was to be 5s a week for people over 70. Married couples would only receive 7s 6d. In 1908 Lloyd George gave into pressure from the backbenches, and removed the discrimination against married couples. However, the Treasury had also succeeded in limiting the take-up of the new benefit, was putting a limit of £7 million on the amount that could be spent on it and moving the age when it could be paid from 65 to 70. (See G.C. Peden, British Economic and Social Policy: Lloyd George to Margaret Thatcher, pp. 20-1). And the Tories have done exactly the same today. A few years ago they raised the retirement age to 70 for men, on the grounds that more of us are living and remaining active to that age. They may well be right, but I doubt that’s the only reason they raised it. It seems to me to be something they’ve wanted to do for over a century, ever since Asquith and Lloyd George brought it in. There are certain things in Tories that really don’t change. Unfortunately.

The Face of the Homeless from 100 Years Ago

May 7, 2014

Eviction Pic

I found this photo from the one of the history books I have lying about the house. It’s of an old woman evicted from her house, with her possessions piled into the street from sometime before the First World War. It’s from the W.H. Smith History of the World: Vol 2 – The Last Five Hundred Years (London: Hamlyn 1984), p. 517. The caption for the photo reads:

An old woman evicted from her south London home just before the First World War: by now old-age pensions and the national insurance scheme had laid the basis of the welfare state, but few municipalities recognized a duty to house their citizens.

This is the reality of what existed before the introduction of council housing. And it’s what is returning to Britain again with the introduction of IDS’ ‘bedroom tax’, inflationary house values that only benefit the buy-to-let market, and the construction of ‘affordable housing’, which is still well above many people’s ability to purchase.

We can’t let them get away with it.