The Welfare State We're In, The website of the book by James Bartholomew
March 24, 2005
Thursday
The post-war fall and rise of unemployment benefit

Did unemployment go down after the war because unemployment benefits were lower?

Despite the reputations of Beveridge and the Attlee government, as the table shows, benefits were lower after they had done their work than before the war. They were lower both after adjustment for inflation and after adjustment for wage rates.

The following figures show:
the year,
the price index of that year,
the nominal unemployment benefit rate for a single man,
that benefit after adjustment for inflation,
the benefit after adjustment for wage rises.


1938 16.5 85p 85p 85p
1939 17.1 85p 82.0p 84.8p
1940 20.0 85p 70.1p 75.3
1941 22.2 £1.00 74.3p 81.8
1942 23.9 £1.00 69.0p 75.3p
1943 24.8 £1.00 66.5p 72.3p
1944 25.5 £1.20 77.6p 83.1p
1945 26.4 £1.20 75.0p 79.8p
1946 27.3 £1.20 72.5p 73.9p
1947 29.3 £1.20 67.5p 71.3p
1948 31.2 £1.30 68.8p 73.3p
1949 32.0 £1.30 67.0p 71.1p
1950 32.9 £1.30 65.2p 70.3p
1951 36.1 £1.625 74.3p 81.3p
1952 38.0 £1.625 70.6p 74.8p
1953 38.8 £1.625 69.1p 71.4p
1954 39.5 £1.625 67.9p 67.9p
1955 40.9 £2.00 80.7p 78.1p
1956 42.9 £2.00 76.9p 72.3p
1957 44.3 £2.00 74.5p 68.9p
1958 45.5 £2.50 90.7p 84.0p
1959 45.9 £2.50 89.9p 81.5p
1960 46.4 £2.50 88.9p 79.4p
1961 47.7 £2.875 99.4p 87.6p
1962 49.4 £2.875 96.0p 84.7p
1963 50.3 £3.375 110.7p 95.9p
1964 52.1 £3.375 106.9p 91.4p
1965 54.7 £4.00 120.7p 104.2p
1966 56.7 £4.00 116.4p 99.2p

Sources: Benefit rates from Institute of Fiscal Studies web site from 1948 and from Social Insurance in Britain from 1938. Basic weekly wage rates (June each year) from Office for National Statistics. Inflation statistics House of Commons Library research paper 1999.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in Additional resources and material

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