Government are not doing enough to face up to the time bomb of our ageing society

Warning that plans which would allow pensioners to cash in their lumps sumps could see them plunged into poverty and leaving future taxpayers to grapple with the consequences in the Commons Debate today on the Pensions Bill Peter said,

‘Our changing demographic profile means that baby boomers—people such as me who were born between 1945 and 1965—will form the big bulge in the active ageing category. That change presents immense problems, not least in preparing for the future. Ironically, as our society gets older, pensions should increasingly become a young person’s issue, because the ratio of workers to pensioners has started to tip towards crisis levels. In the next 50 years or so, the number of people over pension age will increase by more than half, and there will be only two people working for every one person in retirement, compared with four working people for every retired person today. A hundred years ago, there were 10 working people for every one person in retirement.

‘The cost implications for future generations of such increasing longevity are deeply alarming. People are expected to be active for longer in retirement and need the resources to fund that.’

Highlighting the shortcomings in the proposed legislation he said,

‘There is a chronic problem of under-saving, with perhaps as many as 7 million people not saving enough to fulfil their aspirations in retirement, and some low earners not saving at all. The Bill does not tackle the problem, meaning a chasm will grow between the income that they need and what they actually receive in retirement. There are many reasons for people not saving. Many on low incomes or with broken working patterns do not have access to a workplace scheme. Some will be put off by the complexity of pensions while others will simply live for today. Others will lack confidence in pensions. The Bill does nothing to address that.

‘We must get to the point at which saving becomes the norm and a savings culture is embedded in society in general and in the young in particular. In that respect I welcome the Government’s decision to raise the level for tax-free ISAs and premium bonds, but such initiatives deal only with the tip of an iceberg; the Bill does absolutely nothing to deal with it.

‘The requirement for automatic enrolment into a qualifying pension scheme introduces for the first time a bias towards saving, which is welcome. Evidence suggests that automatic enrolment is one of the most effective ways to combat people’s tendency not to act when faced with difficult financial decisions. It also has the greatest impact among groups where participation rates are the lowest. On the other hand, nobody should pretend that most such schemes will deliver the kind of living standards in retirement that people today expect. Most will not—and the Bill does not.’

Read Peter’s full speech here