Working-Class Self-Help in Nineteenth Century England

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* Book: Eric Hopkins' Working-class Self-Help in nineteenth century England.


We need to be aware that public services as we know them had their origins in pioneering class struggles by commoners that developed the fundamental social economic innovations."


Pat Conaty:

"A great book on the history: By 1900 there were 27,000 friendly societies providing a wide range of mutual aid services for funerals, for sick pay and also for small pensions. They date back in formation to the 18th century and many early trade unions before they were legalised after 1825 operated clandestinely as friendly societies. Also early co-ops used friendly society laws to form legally.

Social democracy emerged decades before 1945 and those who studied closely over a century ago mutual aid, friendly societies, co-ops and trade unions, like the Fabian socialists Beatrice and Sidney Webb, advocated that the emerging Labour parties should seek to collectivise the best practices of friendly societies and co-ops via welfare state practices to provide sick pay, retirement pensions, industrial injury payments and primary health care. The 1911 National Insurance Act in the UK provided these services in collective ways via the state in a three way contributory system into social insurance funds with the workers paying in a third, employers a third and the government a third. This was the deal with the state and from 1911 until 1948 - when the National Health Service widen coverage and health services comprehensively - the friendly societies were involved in the administration of the 1911 Act.

Trade unions in Belgium and in countries in Scandinavia still to this day play a key social security delivery role.

From 1948 as friendly society roles diminished as the state took all the roles over, the numbers in the UK have reduced now to only about 200.

Interesting to see that the Broodfonds or Bread Funds in the Netherlands developed after 2006 as 21st century friendly societies when the Dutch state ended access to sickness benefits for self-employed people. So where markets fail and states leave gaps as is increasingly the case since 2010, mutual aid re-emerges." (email, January 2018)