Supplementary Benefit

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Supplementary Benefit was a means-tested benefit in the United Kingdom, paid to people on low incomes, whether or not they were classed as unemployed, such as pensioners, the sick and single parents. Introduced in November 1966, it replaced the earlier system of discretionary National Assistance payments and was intended to 'top up' other benefits, hence its name.

The Supplementary Benefits Commission was established alongside the Ministry of Social Security by the Ministry of Social Security Act 1966 to work to administer the new benefits. Richard Titmuss was appointed vice-chair of the Commission.[1]:182

In 1968 the Ministry of Social Security was incorporated into the new Department of Social Security (DHSS).

The benefit was paid weekly, through giro cheques and order books, or fortnightly by the Unemployment Benefit Office by giro and cashed at local post offices.

Unemployed people were the largest proportion of claimants, usually those who were under the age of 18 and had not yet entered employment, or those who had been unemployed longer than twelve months and exhausted eligibility for Unemployment Benefit.

Supplementary Benefit Tribunals[edit]

Appeals were handled by Supplementary Benefit Tribunals


The benefit was abolished and replaced by Income Support on 11 April 1988, as part of a wider overhaul of the benefits system. This was a significant shift in ethos, moving from a benefit based on circumstances that was customisable to take account of factors such as heating and diet needs to one based on age with very little flexibility, which was easier to computerise.


  1. ^ Rose, Hilary (1973). "Up Against the Welfare State: Claimants Unions". Socialist Register.