ABSTRACT

Before the scheme was finally altered there appeared a pair of redoubtable opponents to attack the 'lump sum' in Sir Arnold Wilson and Professor Levy, who published their study of 'Workmen's Compensation' in 1939.3 They could see no good in the 'lump sum' at all and their examination of the facts, and the arguments they used, certainly added up to a powerful indictment. Take for instance the argument of popularity. The lump sum was said to be popular with the worker, because it provided him with some capital to buy a house or a business. Yet in practice this seldom followed. More often he used the money to payoff his debts, or to live at a higher standard for a few months, only to find, when the money was gone, that his disability remained and he had no means of livelihood. The Ministry of Pensions, they said, had used the device sparingly, and only when they were assured that the money would be put into a house, a business or used for emigrating. All applications for the commuting of a war pension had been closely examined and, should a pensioner apply to start a business, he was required to state the nature of the business, his own experience and skill, whether he meant to buy a going concern, or start de novo. Refusals were more common than acceptances. Of nearly 45,000 applications for lump sum settlement between 1921-38, only 2,500 were accepted, fewer than 6 per cent. Even so, when in 1935 Professor Levy made a test inquiry into fifty-eight businesses started by means of these Ministry of Pensions lump sum payments in 1928 and 1929, twenty-five pensioners only were found to be still in business. Of the others, twenty-three suffered total or partial loss and had given up, and the other ten could not be traced. So in spite of the Ministry's safeguards, there were probably more failures

than successes. As no such safeguards were demanded in workmen's compensation, the value of the lump sum as a means of earning a livelihood, and thus a permanent compensation for injury, became very doubtful.