Friendly Societies Act 1875
The Friendly Societies Act 1875 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by Benjamin Disraeli's Conservative Government following the publication of the Royal Commission on Friendly Societies' Final Report.
The Act encouraged friendly societies to register with the Registrar of Friendly Societies by granting them the legal right to own land and property in the name of their trustees and the ability to take out legal proceedings in return for registration. Registered societies were subject to regulation, for example they were required to submit quinquennial returns to the Registrar which gave details of their financial affairs and in-force business which could be used by the Registar to evaluate their assets against their liabilities under life assurance, annuity and sickness business.
Friendly societies paid de facto old-age pensions in the form of sickness benefit and the Act defined "old age" as 50 and above, and although a court ruling claimed that "natural decay" was not "sickness" the majority of friendly societies did not accept this ruling as they were in competition with each other and so therefore wanted to continue paying pensions to attract new members.
The Act allowed friendly societies considerable self-management "but insured the adoption of sound rules, effective audit, and rates of payment sufficient to maintain solvency. It established the friendly societies, and with them the people's savings on a satisfactory basis".
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- The Short Titles Act 1896, section 2(1) and Schedule 2
- John Macnicol, The Politics of Retirement in Britain, 1878-1948 (Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 114.
- Macnicol, p. 118.
- William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (London: John Murray, 1929), pp. 704-5.