A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



When the men were asked if they were faced with any particular problems at the time they were certified 31% spoke of financial problems. A review of their sources of income at the time of certification throws some light on this particular difficulty, while a discussion of the compensation they received, the uses they made of it, and the amount of money they were receiving at the time of the inquiry, shows fairly clearly the effect of certification on the financial circumstances of the men in general.


The majority of men, for a period between leaving mining and being certified, (and so becoming eligible for compensation), were dependent upon outside assistance for their livelihood. The greatest single number of men, 40%, were dependent in part upon National Health insurance and Sick Club benefits. Of the rest, 19% received Unemployment Benefit presumably by stating that they were fit for work other than mining, 10% were dependent in part upon Old Age Pensions, their families’ earning and their last wage from the pit. 26% did not experience any appreciable interval between leaving the pit and certification. +

Very nearly half the men, 49%, who experienced this gap between leaving mining and receiving compensation received less than £1, and 30% more than £2 weekly. The men who were worst off were mainly the men who were largely dependent upon N.H.T., their own savings and the family’s earnings. The men who were largely dependent upon Unemployment Insurance and Public Assistance were the best off.

[15] More than one answer could be given, so the percentages total more than 100.


It can be seen from these figures that the drop from normal experienced by the men was considerable. While the sums they received were in the nature of temporary assistance it can be shown that when they later got compensation for their illness and their income was, therefore settled unless they found other work, there was not a great improvement in their economic position. At the time they were interviewed 7% of the men had settled their compensation for a lump sum immediately after they had been certified, 44% had accepted weekly payments at first but later settled for a lump sum, while 46% still received weekly payments. 2% said that they had not received any compensation. A discussion of the compensation the men received must, therefore, fall into two parts, (a) compensation by weekly payments and (b) by a lump sum settlement. Since more than 98% of the men had received weekly payments at one time or another these can, perhaps, be discussed first.


(a) Weekly Compensation

The weekly payments made to men initially were not necessarily the payments they were receiving at the time they were interviewed, since adjustments could be made according to the amount of money a man was earning or to the progress of his disability. Accordingly a record was made of the initial payments received by the men as well as of the payments they were receiving at the time of interview. A comparison follows:

First Payment Last Payment
% %
(a) Up to 19/- weekly 32 23
(b) £1 to £1.19.0 weekly 11 30
(c) £2 to £2.19.0 weekly 29 42
(d) £3 to £3.19.0 weekly 5
(e) £4 to £4.10.0 weekly 6
(f) £4.10.0 and over 10 0
693 693

It is clear from this comparison that, largely perhaps because so many men had found work, the final weekly payments they received were much more frequently less than £3 than their initial payments. In these circumstances it is understandable that men in employment would be readier to settle their claims to compensation by accepting a lump sum.

[16] See p.19

(b) Lump Sum Settlement

Altogether, 52% of the men had accepted a lump sum in settlement of their compensation by February 1946. With the exceptions who received £1,100 and £1,300 respectively, the sums they were paid ranged from £100 to £1,000. + The majority of men received sums nearer £100 than £900, however 41% received between £100 and £400, 41% received over £400 and up to £700, while 18% received between £700 and £900. ++

What factors were associated with these different forms of compensation? Men in the higher X-ray category more frequently remained in receipt of weekly payments then men in the lower X-ray category, but this was probably associated with the fact, suggested at earlier, that the men who had found work since certification more frequently settled for a lump sum than the men who had not found work. Thus, 71% of those who had worked intermittently and 67% of those who were working at the time of the enquiry had accepted a lump sum in settlement of their compensation, compared with 19% of those who had never worked. A comparison of the Eastern and Western parts of the coalfield also shows that significantly more men in the West retained their weekly payments than men in the East, although the amounts received in each half of the coalfield did not differ greatly.

On the other hand the lump sum the men received in settlement of their claims differed considerably between the two parts of the coalfield. In the East, for example, 62% received up to £400, compared with 5% of those in the West, while only 35% of those in the East received more than £400 compared with 95% in the West. Since the proportions of men in the different X-ray categories did not differ this can only be due to difference in negotiating machinery. ++

There were, of course, considerable differences between the X-ray categories also. For instance, 30% of those in X-ray category 1 received between £400 and £700 compared with 59% of those in X-ray category 2, although similar proportions in both groups received larger sums than that.

The majority of men who accepted a lump sum did so within one or two years of certification. 38% took a lump sum in the first twelve months after certification, and 23% provide sufficient information for the interval to be calculated, however.

Men took a lump sum mainly because their earnings affected their weekly compensation, because the compensation was so small as not to be worthwhile, and because they thought a lump sum was of more use to them. In all, 45% mentioned one or other of these reasons. The next largest category was that of men who thought that they had been forced to take a lump sum, or been over-persuaded into doing so, by representatives of the insurance company. 1796 mentioned this. 10% said that they had settled their claim because of financial difficulties, or because they needed the ready money, while smaller percentages said that they wanted to finish with the pit; they wanted to leave South Wales; they wanted to provide for their families and, they wanted to start a business. It will be seen from this that only a small proportion of men took a lump sum for positive reasons, that is, to make a particular use of it. The uses that men in fact made of the lump sum when they received it principally to pay off debts, (incurred, no doubt, while awaiting certification), to I buy a house or business, or to use it for everyday living or for the education of their children. Nearly a third of the men used the money for the latter purposes, living or education, while nearly half the men saved or invested the whole or part of the lump sums they received. Nearly half the men, therefore, were dependent upon their earnings or upon other forms of assistance after they had received a settlement of their compensation. It had, in fact, only served to tide them over temporary difficulties. +++

[17] The median of the range was £446, and the quartile deviation £97.

[18] 82% of the men negotiated their compensation through their Union. 77% in the East and 87% in the West of the Coalfield.

[19] A comparison between East and West shows that a higher proportion of the men in the West said that they were forced or persuaded to take a lump sum and a lower proportion said they settled because their compensation was affected by their weekly earnings.



3. An analysis of the sources of income of the men at the time they were interviewed shows that, including those in receipt of weekly payments, 46% were dependent in part upon their weekly compensation, 36% upon their earning, 29% upon Unemployment Insurance, and 10% upon Old Age and Supplementary Pensions. Smaller percentage, 5% or less, were dependent in part upon Sick Club payments. Proceeds from property or hobbies, help from wife, family or children, or public Assistance. Compensation was most frequently supplemented by earning or pensions or Unemployment Insurance. + The weekly amounts received by the men, or their families, varied from 10/- to £10. The amounts are tabled below:

Under £2 13
£2 - £2.19.0d. 33
£3 - £3.19.0d. 11
£4 - £4-19.0d. 18
£5 - £5.19-0d. 9
£6 - £6.19.0d 6
£7 - £7.19.Od. 3
£8 - £8.19.0d. -
£9 - £9.19.0d. -
£10 -
None 1
Not answered 5
All men suffering with pneumoconiosis 764

A comparison of these amounts with their earnings at the time they left the pit shows that at the time only 8% were getting less than £5 a week, whereas 32% were getting between £5 and £7 a week. Thus, economically at least, a considerable number of men had suffered severely as a result of certification. Part of the reason for their anxiety to find work might also lie in these figures.


A small proportion of the men, 10% said that part of their leisure was occupied by what were called gainful employments. These might vary from cultivating a small- holding to carrying out minor repairs. In either case the returns must necessarily have been small.

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