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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2012): Pensions - UK

Doctors may treat emergency cases only in industrial action

R. Smith

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 25th 2012, p. 4

It was thought that doctors were unlikely to vote to strike in protest about pension reforms, but suggestions had been put forward for a series of work-to-rule measures. These could include GPs referring vast numbers of patients to hospital, refusing to fill in forms, and even treating emergency cases only.

Doctors threaten first strike in 40 years - over 48,000 pensions

J. Laurance

The Independent, Jan. 19th 2012, p. 2

A British Medical Association survey showed almost two out of three doctors would back industrial action over proposed reforms to their members' work and pensions arrangements. The reforms would see doctors pay more in contributions, work longer, and receive less, in line with other public sector workers. The last time doctors went on strike was in the mid-1970s. The Department of Health said that under current conditions a consultant retiring at 60 would receive a pension of 48,000 a year for life, plus a tax-free lump sum of around 143,000.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Jan. 19th 2012, p. 1+2)

Meeting future workplace pension challenges: improving transfers and dealing with small pension pots

Department for Work and Pensions

London: TSO, 2011 (Cm 8184)

This paper examines the UK pension landscape undergoing a transformation. Employers are to take on new duties to automatically enroll their workers into a pension scheme to which they will also contribute. Membership of Defined Contribution (DC) pension schemes will also increase, but the onset of automatic enrolment and the changing pension landscape may bring new challenges. To successfully achieve a cultural shift so that pension saving becomes the norm, money put into pension savings should stay there. The short-service refund rules for DC occupational pension schemes work against this principle. It is therefore planned that these rules be abolished to retain 70 - 130 million per year in pension savings. This will hopefully happen as soon as 2014 provided it is possible to implement an accompanying solution for small pension pot transfers at the same time. This paper presents three broad approaches to initiate debate about how best to address the problem of small pension pots: relatively minor changes to the current voluntary transfer system; automatic consolidation of small pensions in an aggregator scheme; and pensions automatically moving with people from job to job.

Strike fears grow as Unite rejects NHS pension plans

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 6th 2012, p. 2

Unite announced that it would reject government plans to make its members in the health service pay more and work longer before receiving their pensions. The union claimed that the proposals were part of a Coalition government plot to privatise the NHS. Unite's decision raised fears that other unions would also reject the reform package.

Visions of Britain 2020: pensions: crisis and reforms

Friends Life

Future Foundation, 2012

This report argues that, due to the squeeze on public sector pensions, and decisions by firms to close final salary pension schemes, many older people will be forced to work part-time into their seventies because they cannot afford to retire. A new generation of Wearies - Working Entrepreneurial Actve Retirees - is being created as they work longer due to the pensions crisis. Many will look to supplement their incomes by becoming self-employed and setting up small businesses.

Work until 70 to pay for your old age

J. Hall

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 3rd 2012, p. 2

In a survey of occupational pensions, the Association of Consulting Actuaries found that nine out of ten final salary schemes were closed to new members, with companies opting for cheaper defined contribution arrangements. Over three million people were active members of an occupational pension scheme, down from eight million in the late 1960s. Four in 10 companies said that by 2020 they expected staff to work until they were 67 or older as they struggled to pay for their old age. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions in December 2011 also showed that the number of people contributing to a private pension had also fallen sharply.

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