Dr Michael Robinson History Seminar

Welfare policy and health systems for disabled First World War Veterans, 1918-1939

1:00pm - 3:00pm / Wednesday 9th February 2022 / Venue: Lecture Theatre 5 Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Research / Series: History Seminar Series
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Speaker: Dr Michael Robinson
This talk introduces my Leverhulme Trust Early Career Researcher funded project entitled: ‘Disability, Welfare and Ageing: First World War Veterans of the British Empire’. It will focus on British state policymaking for disabled First World War veterans and how consecutive governments aimed to cease state liability for veterans incrementally. An essential policy tool to achieve this ambition was imposing a seven-year time limit on claims in its 1921 War Pensions Act which came into effect on 1 September 1928. As will be discussed, this policy debarred claims from veterans suffering from ‘invisible disabilities’ namely conditions and illnesses which are life-limiting but that are not readily discernible to others. As will be discussed, the time limit was maintained despite the British Legion’s emotive protestations and lobbying efforts advocating for its removal. This policy prevented the British state from becoming liable for fresh disability claims from unemployed veterans during the Great Depression, 1929-1939. Comparing this British case study with the equivalent policymaking process in Australia and Canada during this period demonstrates that the British state’s success was not inevitable and allows broader policy lessons to be extracted.