were first paid to persons over 70 years of age on 1 January 1909. Their introduction had been debated for many years, raising questions about the redistribution of incomes and reducing the burden of poverty on people who had not sufficient resources to provide for themselves. A regular weekly payment by the state from taxation was preferred to any contributory scheme because of the high administrative cost. Only those with an annual income of less than £31 10s
. a year, who had no criminal convictions, and who had never received support from the Poor Law were eligible for an old-age pension. Almost half a million people qualified. Later amendments increased payments to cope with inflation and after 1925 the age for support was lowered to 65 years. Pension entitlement began under the National Health and Insurance Act (1925) when worker, employer, and the state each contributed. Retirement pensions superseded the old-age pension in 1946 for all except those who had no contribution record after 1946.
Ian John Ernest Keil
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