Saturday 5 April 2003

More on pensions

The Scotsman's Business Editor, Bill Jameison, writes that pension returns have plunged by 49% over the last six years. This is the result of falling fund values coupled with reduced annuity rates.

In a separate article, David Simpson (formerly economic advisor to Standard Life), tells us that:

ALL THREE pillars of the British pensions system are crumbling. The basic state pension is unsustainable in its present form. Defined benefit occupational pensions schemes are fast disappearing, and with them the retirement hopes of millions of workers.

A further three million low income earners are not saving enough for their retirement. And uncertainty about pensions choices is widespread.

Mr Simpson makes several interesting suggestions that could improve the situation but doesn't mention the greatest pension scandal of them all, namely the onward march of pension benefits for government workers. Their pensions don't seem to be under any threat. State employees (especially in Scotland) generally have better working conditions, more job security, longer holidays and secure pensions that are paid for by the rest of us. This should be one of the main issues in the Scottish election. So far, I haven't heard a word.