Welcome to my Blog

I was the Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland until my retirement in September 2018. I now work on several policy development projects, so all views are very definitely my own. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Retirement Age

I was a contributor on the BBC 'Call Kaye' programme this morning on the subject of Tesco's decision to increase the retirement age in their pension scheme to 67.

In fairness to Tesco they are not alone in this and of course the ConDem coalition is increasing the state retirement pension in the same direction, together with public service pension schemes. While I am being fair to Tesco they do at least have a pension scheme. Unlike two-thirds of employers who contribute nothing to pensions, costing us the taxpayer £15bn to subsidise their profits.

The drive to increase retirement age is less about us living longer and more about cutting pension costs. There are two main points I made this morning:

  1. Not everyone is living longer and averages can hide a harsher reality for many. Lord Hutton came to Scotland to tell us that on average we are living to 75. Tell that to men in parts of Glasgow who die at 54 and women not much longer. The life expectancy of a female cleaner in Scotland has hardly changed for 30 years. Why should workers like this save for a pension they are unlikely to collect when companies and the government keep moving the goal posts?
  2. A one size fits all solution doesn't work. The programme this morning heard from nurses, paramedics and care workers who simply couldn't keep working to 60, let alone 65 or 67. And if they don't their pension is cut creating further problems for the economy and pressure on welfare benefits.
Various pension experts came on to talk about pension and career planning. But if a working life is to be extended from 40 to 50+ years then planning over that time frame is difficult if not impossible. Again a caller gave a very practical example of that problem. 

Of course we advise members in their 20's and 30's to save for retirement through good occupational pension schemes. But when your pay is frozen, you can't afford a mortgage and your job is increasingly insecure - pensions come pretty far down the list of priorities. The Government needs to get realistic on pensions and not simply view it as another opportunity to grab cash from workers pockets. 

1 comment:

  1. One of the better phone in's. Good expert presentations coupled with real people's experiences. Work to we drop is not an attractive prospect.