Female Provident Society - Document from the Enoch Wood scrapbook

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Date:1790 - 1820 (c.)

Description:This 'benefit club' claimed to offer women a fighting chance of avoiding hopeless poverty - many years before any worker paid a National Insurance contribution.

If a woman fell ill, she could expect sickness benefits of 4s. or 8s. - provided that she subscribed the Women's Provident Society's monthly payments.

For young savers the payments were the most affordable - just 1s. 1d. But not all could afford this, especially at times when work was scarce.

A higher premium hit late starters. By 44, if she was still alive, a woman would have to find 3s. 3d. from her monthly income.

The notice details the scale of payments according to age. Subscribers also had the option of paying a bonus fee, which would provide £2 towards any funeral expenses.

No benefits were offered to the over 65s.

Still, the society was popular enough to be creating new branches in Etruria and Stone.

In later years, trade unions and eventually the state provided a similar service. This evolved to become the National Insurance system we know today.

What was it worth?

In 2002, these sums of money were roughly worth the following amounts:

1s. 1d. = £2.40
3s. 3d. = £7.21
4s. = £8.87
8s. = £17.75
£2 = £88.74

Note: These figures are not straight forward. Work could be patchy and workers were often paid poorly. In 1800 the average weekly wage in Britain was around 10s. but could vary wildly. This depended on whether business was thriving and prices were steady. There was also the constant threat of unemployment.

This document is now among the collections of Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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