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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2003): Pensions - UK

CALL FOR HIGHER BIRTH RATES TO REDUCE PENSION PROBLEM

N. Timmins

The Financial Times, September 23rd 2003, p.2

More babies are needed if the pension problem is to be solved in ageing societies, according to a report for the Centre of European Reform. Europe's working age population is set to fall by 40m or 18% by 2005 and raising the birth rate, despite the rise in education costs, could be the only way to make an impact on the problem.

COMBINING WORK AND FAMILY LIFE: THE PENSION PENALTY OF CARING

M. Evandrou and K. Glaser

Ageing and Society, vol. 23, 2003, p.583-601

Paper uses work and caring history information from the British Family and Working Lives Survey to examine the provision of family care and its impact upon the employment and subsequent state and private pension entitlement of mid-life men and women. One-in-five mid-life women who had ever had caring responsibilities reported that, upon starting caring, they stopped work altogether; another one-in-five reported that they worked fewer hours, earned less money, or could only work restricted hours. Fewer men and women who stopped work as a result of caring were members of an occupational scheme than other groups; and they had accumulated fewer years of contributions than their counterparts who continued working, with direct implications for their level of pension income in later life.

GAY PARTNERS TO GET ARMY PENSIONS

R. Jones

The Guardian, September 16th 2003, p.6

The Ministry of Defence has announced "major improvements" in benefits to the spouses of troops who die in action. Rights are also to be extended to same sex partners in the biggest shake-up in armed forces pensions since the 1980's.

(See also: The Financial Times, September 16th 2003, p.6; The Daily Telegraph, September 16th 2003, p.1)

MINISTERS URGED TO ABOLISH PENSIONS RULES

P. Skypala

The Financial Times, September 17th 2003, p.8

Regulations that force people to buy inflation-protected pensions must be scrapped if the financial services industry is to finance a forecast jump in demand. The Association of British Insurers says that, unless it is curbed, demand could overwhelm the supply of suitable financial securities.

THE NEW OLD: WHY BABY BOOMERS WON'T BE PENSIONED OFF

J. Huber and P. Skidmore

Demos, 2003

Our society is ageing rapidly and by 2007 those over 65 will outnumber those under 16 for the first time. However, few have considered how the baby boomer generation - those who have dealt with radical social, economic and political change throughout their lives - will react to their changing circumstances. The baby boomers have the power to rewrite the political agenda, not only on issues such as the retirement age and work/life balance but also euthanasia and access to health care. It is unclear however whether these pensioners will forward their own interests at the expense of their children or whether they will fight for further social change.

PENSION GAP UNFAIR ON WORKERS, CBI ADMITS

J. Treanor

The Guardian, September 16th 2003, p.16

The CBI has launched an investigation over the discrepancies in pension provision between the workforce and the boardroom. Many employees are being pushed into risky money purchase pension schemes, which rely on the stock market, whilst board members enjoy final salary pensions.

(See also The Independent, September 16th 2003, p.17)

PENSIONERS ACCUSE BLAIR OVER 70% TAX RISE

R. Bennett and A. Frean

The Times, September 18th 2003, p.13

Two leading charities have united with angry pensioners to call for changes to help elderly people pay their bills. The Royal British Legion and Help the Aged said it was grossly unfair that while tax in England had doubled over the past ten years, pensions had only risen by a quarter.

PENSIONS CHIEF WARNS OF CREDIT PITFALLS

A. Steed

The Daily Telegraph, September 8th 2003, p.25

The government's state pension plans are unworkable and need dramatic revision according to Stewart Ritchie, a government pensions adviser. Pension credit, the government's latest scheme that allows pensioners' credit for retirement savings, will only give 60p from every pound and pensioners will have to reveal any changes in their income every five years. Mr Richie states that this will make it very difficult for financial advisers to persuade people who will be means tested to save more for their retirement.

THE PENSIONS SYSTEM

R. Ellison

Family Law Journal, No. 29, September 2003, p.12-15

Although for divorcing couples pension rights may be worth more than their house, the difficulties for matrimonial lawyers in determining what those rights are, how they can be valued and how they should be allocated are immense. The UK has a myriad of pension arrangements and in this article the author explains how state and private pension schemes work, including sections on occupational schemes and schemes for the higher paid.

STILL COUGHING UP FOR FAT CAT PENSIONS

Anon.

Labour Research, vol.92, Sept. 2003, p.10-11

Thirty-seven out of 100 top companies in the UK have now closed their final salary pension schemes to new employees, but most of the directors making these decisions will get large guaranteed pensions. A few companies are closing final salary schemes to new directors as well, but their new packages are vastly superior to those offered to employees.

UK GOVERNMENT'S PENSION PLANS MAY FORCE EMPLOYERS INTO BANKRUPTCY

J. Hazlett

Pensions International, no.52, 2003, p.17-18

In order to protect members, government is planning to impose strict regulations on firms opting to wind up their defined benefit pension schemes. The cost of winding up a scheme under the proposals will be massive. Employers will not, therefore, wind up schemes but will remain saddled with pension liabilities that could force them into insolvency.

WATCHDOG MOVES TO CUT PENSION DEFICITS

N. Cohen

Financial Times, September 1st 2003, p.4

The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority is attempting to tackle the pensions crisis by forcing employers to increase contributions to the schemes with the greatest deficits. Requests for payment extensions have gone up in recent months, despite a relaxation of the rules in March 2002, with firms claiming to be unable to afford the contributions required under the Minimum Funding Requirement.

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