National Insurance Act of 1911

The National Insurance Act of 1911 was inspired by a visit by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George to Germany in 1908 where the country provided compulsory national insurance since 1884 against sickness. In the Chancellor’s speech in 1909 on the Budget he stated that the United Kingdom should work toward matching this type of product instead of just strengthening their weaponry to match Germany. This act is “an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom”, which is often noted for being the base of the social welfare found in the United Kingdom and other sections of the social welfare reforms in 1906 to 1915 of the Liberal Government.

The Act was put into place and finally provided the working classes the first system available for any type of insurance against unemployment and sickness. The Act did only apply to those that were earning a living. The families of the wage earner and those that were not employed had to find other ways to receive help if they became ill.

As with any act or law, there were those that opposed the act such as trade unions that had their own insurance methods as well as friendly societies of the trade union. Part of the Act that was mostly opposed was the fact that those that were not working were no longer insured under this act and had to rely on the social welfare provisions known as the Poor Act. However, in 1926 the Poor Act was abolished.

Key figures that were involved in implementing the Act were William Braithwaite and Robert Laurie Morant. On the other hand, Franco-British Catholic Hilaire Belloc who was a writer at the time believed that this insurance act was an expression of the Servile State which is explained in the book of that name.