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National Assistance Act (NAA).

What: The NAA abolished the Poor Law and established a safety net for those who did not (or were not able to) pay into National Insurance. The act set up the centralised National Assistance Board (NAB) to administer the means-tested benefits, replacing Public Assistance Committees or the Unemployment Assistance Board (Chambers, 1949). The Act gave the NAB powers to administer benefits centrally, to set up local advisory committees, and the power to prosecute those who submitted inaccurate claims.

Section 29 of the NAA 1948 gave local authorities responsibility to provide temporary or permanent housing to elderly and disabled people, including a list of other services that could be made available to them. 

Why significant: At this stage, National Assistance was considered to be a transitional measure that would fall away once full employment was achieved and National Insurance took over and the economy got back to normal growth after post-war reconstruction. In actuality, social assistance and means-tested benefits took on a much larger role than expected in the UK welfare state.