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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2011): Pensions - UK

Baby boomers are our secret millionaires

P. Inman

The Guardian, Feb. 28th 2011, p. 22

The National Pensioners Convention, angry at the government's decision to downgrade the inflation link for annual pension increases, is to lead a lobby of MPs. Its message is that many over 65s will be made poorer by the change. The plea shows the problems that arise when debating the effects of the baby boomer generation on the rest of society and will lead to accusation that boomers are protecting themselves at the expense of younger workers.

Coalition ready for strikes as PM outlines public sector revolution

O. Wright

The Independent, Feb. 22 2011, p. 12

The article reports that ministers are drawing up plans for possible coordinated public sector strikes that might take place across the country in the summer of 2011. The plans include drafting in private sector workers to cross picket lines. Ministers are also considering introducing new legislation that would make strike action harder, such as banning union subscriptions being collected through payroll, and allowing strikes to go ahead only if the majority of registered members have voted yes. This new 'anti-strike' legislation, however, would only be a last resource, given its inflammatory nature. The strike plans have been triggered by proposals to increase public sector workers'pension contributions. The more 'belligerent' unions are considered to be the RMT and PCS. A TUC day of protest is planned on 26 March in London

Peer warns of crisis in public-sector pensions

A. McSmith

The Independent, Feb. 21st 2011, p. 19

In a letter to the Chancellor, the Tory chairman of the Local Government Association, Baroness Eaton, has warned that the Government's plans to make public employees pay extra to fund their pension schemes would cause high levels of 'opt-outs' and lead to more difficult industrial relations. Public employees will be expected to pay an extra 3.2 per cent towards their pension under new Government plans. However, if hundreds of thousands opted out, the schemes would have problems funding themselves and this might lead to former council employees having to rely on state benefits.

Protests mount as pension age changes hit 500,000 women

P. Curtis and J. Insley

The Guardian, Feb. 1st 2011, p. 14

MPs have been deluged with letters from women born in the 1950s who were put on notice that they will have to work up to two years longer as a result of fast track changes to the pension age. The retirement plans of more than 500,000 women have been affected by more that one year. Charities and opposition MPs are co-ordinating a campaign to put pressure on the government to amend the bill when it returns to Parliament in March. Members of the Work and Pensions Select Committee are to question the minister responsible, Steve Webb, when he appears before them.

Record numbers working beyond retirement age

H. Wallop

Daily Telegraph, Feb. 3rd 2011, p. 6

According to the Office for National Statistics 11.7% of men and 12.3% of women are continuing to work beyond the age of retirement. These are the highest rates since records began and compare with rates of 7-8% in the 1990s. The figures suggest that thousands of pensioners are working to boost their incomes, or are not in a strong enough financial position to retire in the first place.

Unions condemn plan to drop public sector's generous pensions

J. Sherman

The Times, Feb. 25th 2011, p. 3

The Treasury is shortly to publish a consultation paper proposing the abolition of the 'Fair Deal' rules that protect final salary pensions when services are outsourced. David Cameron hopes the move will encourage more private firms and charities to bid for public service contracts as part of his Big Society programme. Union leaders have warned 'Scrapping these protections would be extremely provocative and would cause a crisis of confidence amongst public sector workers who are already feeling the pain of the Government's cuts' (Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite). Pension experts predict that the plan could lead to a wider onslaught on a range of regulations that Whitehall chiefs have put into contracts to ensure terms and conditions are protected.

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