Pension by-ways

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Pension History

The archives of the Pensions Archive Trust contain unexpected insights into our pensions past.

Take for example our collections relating to nurses’ pensions. In 1887, with active encouragement from Florence Nightingale, Henry Burdett, who was the secretary to the shares and loans department of the London Stock Exchange, founded the National Pension Fund for Nurses. Its purpose was to provide an income for those nurses unable to work, with benefits based principally on member contributions and investment income.

The contributory nature of the fund was important, the prospectus arguing that it was “…better for a [nurse’s] self-respect and peace of mind that she provide for herself not only in youth but in sickness and age…” Nurses were also required to demonstrate their confidence in the fund through which security could be achieved: The fund would be wound up unless 1,000 members joined within the first two years. As numbers increased towards the target, Henry Burdett wrote in excitement “…Miss Nightingale may also like to know it-that more than 800 nurses have now joined the National Pension Fund …”

Donations were also solicited. Among the first donors were Junius S Morgan, Lord Rothschild, Lord Aldenham and Sir Everard Hambro.

More than a century later, NHS pensions are generous, and an important, although sometimes undervalued, part of the remuneration package. Employer contributions currently stand at just over 20 per cent of pensionable pay, with member contributions ranging from 5.1 per cent to 13.5 per cent of pensionable pay.

Pensions Archive Trust Director, Jane Marshall

This article was first published in the December 2024 edition of Pensions Age magazine