The Ministry of Social Security Act

The Ministry of Social Security Act 1966 received royal assent in August 1966, thereby creating the post of Minister of Social Security.

The National Assistance Board was abolished by the Act and its functions were transferred to the minister and the new Supplementary Benefits Commission.

The commission became responsible for:

  • assessing whether a person had a right to a pension or allowance
  • providing reception and re-establishment centres
  • advising government on social security policy.

Under the Act, those with low incomes had a right to apply for a supplementary benefit. Those who were under 65 years and not in full-time employment would receive an allowance, while people over 65 years could receive pensions.

The Act made the commission responsible for making provisions for reception centres, which provided temporary board and lodging for people who did not have a 'settled way of living'.

The commission could require local authorities to provide reception centres on its behalf. However, those who repeatedly sought support at reception centres would be refused support, if it was clear to the commission, or the providing local authority, that they were able to maintain themselves.

The commission was also made responsible for providing re-establishment centres to help people enter employment by re-establishing themselves through training.


The National Archives.
The Cabinet papers: Benefit reform.
The National Archives; nd.

House of Commons.
Royal Assent; HC Deb 03 August 1966 vol 733 c529.
Hansard; 1966.