Sunday, May 15, 2011

How the Parish provided for the Sick

After the National Insurance Act was passed in 1948, benefits offices paid out sick benefits every two weeks. If you ever wondered why it was set up this way (and you probably didn't) it was because the Government was latching onto a much older tradition.From 1948 those who claimed sick benefit had to produce a doctor's certificate every two weeks and benefits were paid accordingly. I don't know what system prevails today.

In the Churchwarden Accounts for Holy Trinity payments to the sick are made every two weeks. Judging by the names that are repeated  most of these cases are for old people or those with long term illnesses. I doubt if a cold or a sniffle would have got much sympathy from the overseers. In any case, with payments of only 2 shillings a week, nobody would willingly wish to see their income cut by two-thirds.
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Here is a sample of entries for 1808:

Paid Wm Clark 2 weeks at 2/-                4s 0d.
Paid Wm Caves 2 weeks at 2/6              5s 0d
Paid Thos Cook 2 weeks at 1/-              2s 0d
Paid Wm Cross 2 weeks at 2/-               4s 0d
Paid F Arnold   2 weeks at 1/3               2s 6d
Paid Widow Wills extra 2 weeks at 2/-  4s 0d

and these amounts repeat every two weeks.

It is not clear why some were paid different amounts, although this would suggest that other factors were taken into account, such as age and household income. Most of these people I would judge to be seriously ill as the payments go on for some months. There are few, if any, examples that I have seen where someone appears on the books for a week or two and then restored to health, so as I remarked earlier, nobody took time off for minor complaints. The money was provided only to alleviate extreme hardship.

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