Sunday, 26 August 2012
UK PENSIONS ARE NOT SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT
Goodness me. Faux Pas here, methinks.
Right now I wouldn't be shouting off about the UK welfare system. Remember that this is the system that, to save money, is employing medics to put sick people off benefits. I won't rehearse the arguments over and over again, but right now, if I were looking for something to brag about in the UK, it would most certainly not be anything to do with the UK welfare system.
Secondly and directly to do with the retirement pension, the UK's is the lowest by comparison to the average wage, of any country in Europe. Even the Daily Mail carped on about this (when Gordon Brown was the prime minister).
In short, our pensioners are treated worse than pensioners from any other European state. We can look forward to that situation being guaranteed, can we?
In Britain the state pension is not funded. There is no great vault of money waiting to be paid out. The National Insurance payments that you are making at the moment pay for the current crop of pensioners. When it comes time for you to take a pension, you will be dependent on the payments of a future generation of NI contributors. There isn't actually any real guarantee that you will be paid your pension. The Department of Work and Pensions is so on top of this situation that they declared themselves to be shocked that so many Baby Boomers would become 65 in 2012. Really...it gives you such confidence in them. They never thought to plan ahead, given that everyone's ate of birth is available to them.
Perhaps one of the reasons that the state retirement pension is so poor, is that once upon a time, the company pensions schemes in Britain were excellent. But then companies got greedy and abused their pension schemes and along came Gordon Brown with a sure-fire plan to sort them out... by taxing them... and in the process he ruined the company final salary pension system.
The result is that people now have pension savings which will buy an annuity. The amount that an annuity will buy has been steadily reducing over the years, mainly thanks to the incompetence of the UK financial regulators and the Bank of England and its quantitative easing solution to the financial crisis. (You remember QE; it's the one that doesn't work, but does put billions of pounds into the banks' vaults to serve up as bonuses and dividends.)
And finally, with interest rates at 0.5%, and inflation officially at 4% and really at 10%, clearly any money pensioners have put away for a rainy day (unless they managed to get it off to the British Virgin Isles) is losing value at a frightening rate.
So, thanks for the scary campaigning, but I'll take my chances that a Scottish Pensions Minister wouldn't tolerate for a second the idea that people in their 60s and 70s should have to choose between heating and eating and hundreds a year die of cold related illnesses.
Worth a read.