Posted: 11 July 2023
The first day of the battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest of the First World War, was on 1 July 1916. The pension treatment of servicemen and dependants in that and other conflicts is an interesting topic, and the Pensions Archive Trust with other national collections contains much relevant material, ranging from lists of employees on war service and correspondence regarding their pension contributions to much earlier attempts to support those who needed help.
In 1590, the Chatham Chest was established to provide pensions to wounded seamen of the Royal Navy, named for the chest where the scheme assets were stored. Possibly the first funded occupational pension scheme, 5 % of seamen’s wages were deducted each month and paid into the chest. Pensions were payable for life on a fixed scale depending on the level of injury but were regularly reviewed and could be reduced or terminated if the pensioner were found to have recovered sufficiently to be capable of work. The Chest was merged with the Royal Greenwich Hospital in 1803.
The modern approach is to be found in the Pension Regulator’s Code of Practice published in July 2014, to be superseded by a revised Code anticipated in April 2024.There has been prolonged consultation but concerns about the increased compliance burden and its additional costs remain. One expects funding to be more complex than it was in 1590, but whether the changes will stand the test of time is another matter.
Pensions Archive Trust Director, Jane Marshall
This article was first published in the July 2023 edition of Pensions Age magazine.