Socialist Worker

These pension proposals are an attack on us all

The rise in the pension age is the worst aspect of the Turner Commission’s pension proposals — but there are other attacks in the pipeline.

Issue No. 1978

Privatising the second pension

Workers will be enrolled into a second pension scheme on top of the basic state pension.

These second schemes will be administered by one of a small group of government approved private providers.

This is a transformation of the system in favour of privatisation. It would be far cheaper and safer if the state controlled the whole system.

No action to improve the basic pension until 2020

There are no plans for urgent action to tackle the inadequate basic pension of £82.05 a week.

“Over 2.2 million pensioners already live below the official poverty line,” says Joe Harris, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention.

“A state pension of at least £110 a week paid to all and linked to earnings is the only way to tackle pensioner poverty.

“Putting it off for more than a decade will go down as one of the biggest social failures of the age.”

Remorseless further rises in the pension age “as life expectancy rises”

If average life expectancy improves then Turner envisages the pension age could go up to 68 or even 70. But this ignores the class element to life expectancy increases.

Life expectancy declines by a year for every six stops you travel eastwards along London’s District Line from the City to the East End. This makes a mockery of “averages”.

And the latest data for life expectancy show that the gap between England as a whole and the fifth of local authorities with the lowest life expectancy has increased by 2 percent for men and by 5 percent for women.

A shorter retirement — and worse health

By forcing people to work to 67 the government will guarantee that their retirement will be shorter and in worse health.

Already there are 1.3 million people between 50 and 65 on incapacity benefit. Lots of them have been broken by work.

Those numbers will rise—just as the government also declares war on incapacity benefit and tries to drive down this figure.

But don’t blame public sector workers

Much of the press has tried to direct the fury which people will feel over these plans towards scapegoating of “privileged” public sector workers.

But most new public sector workers are facing a five year rise in the age before they get an occupational pension, and they will all be hit by any rise in the state pension age.

Talks over the local government scheme, which affects two million workers, ended without agreement on Monday of this week. But plans continue to wreck that scheme as well.


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News
Sat 26 Nov 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1978
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