Department of Health and Social Security

The Department of Health and Social Security (commonly known as the DHSS) was a ministry of the British government in existence for twenty years from 1968 until 1988, and was headed by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Services.

Department of Health and Social Security
Department overview
Preceding agencies
Superseding agencies
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom


Until 1968 the social security responsibilities had been split between the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, and the health responsibilities by the Ministry of Health.

In 1988 the department was split again into a separate Department of Health and the Department of Social Security.

In 2001 the Department for Work and Pensions was formed from the Department of Social Security, absorbing the employment functions which had previously been the responsibility of the Department for Education and Employment since the dissolution of the Department of Employment in 1995.



Even two and a half decades after its abolition, the initials "DHSS" continued to be used by the general public to describe the Department for Work and Pensions or some of the benefits it provides (such as Income Support).

References in popular cultureEdit

  • Half Man Half Biscuit the notable cynico-rock group from The Wirral, UK, named their first album "Back in the DHSS" as a pun on the earlier single by The Beatles ("Back in the USSR") and a nod to the growing unemployment under the Thatcher regime of the 1980s.
  • UB40 (a reggae group from Birmingham, whose first album was released in 1980[1]) was named after the form issued by the DHSS to those claiming unemployment benefit, the full name of which was Unemployment Benefit form 40.[2]
  • British group Wham! mention the "DHSS" in their song "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)".[3]
  • Punk poet Attila the Stockbroker's poem "Russians in the DHSS" satirized the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union in Thatcher-era Britain.
  • In The Young Ones episode "Bomb" Rick attempts to write a threatening telegram to the British Government through a DHSS office which he mistakes for the post office.


  1. ^ "Biography". UB40 official website. United Kingdom: Box UK. Archived from the original on 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2009-06-02. UB40's first album was released in September 1980.
  2. ^ "Ub40 Biography". Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2009-06-02. The name "UB40" was selected in reference to a paper form issued by the UK government's Department of Health and Social Security at the time of the band's formation for claiming unemployment benefit. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40.
  3. ^ "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 19 August 2018.