Tough questions over pensions

THIS week’s public sector strikes and demonstrations certainly attracted a great deal of support from people who you would not normally consider to be union militants.

And it is difficult not to have sympathy for poorly-paid workers who genuinely feel that the precious pensions are under threat.

There are so many arguments flying around between the government and unions about whether pension schemes are affordable it is difficult to see the wood for the trees.

I do understand, however, that it is galling for poorly-paid public servants to take lectures from Messrs Cameron, Osborne, and all their millionaire mates with connections to the banking industry about how the masses must pay for the foul-ups of the financiers.

Having said that, however, pensions do need reform. The age at which people retire was set two generations ago when most survived into their early 70s and anyone reaching the age of 80 was considered really ancient. Someone retiring at 65 was expected to claim a pension for five or 10 years before popping their clogs!


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Now a man reaching the age of 65 is more likely than not to reach the age of 83 – and a woman can expect to reach 85.

That’s great. But somehow that extra 10 or more years of life has to be paid for – and those of us in the private sector (including those on low salaries) have already seen our pensions seriously eroded.

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I don’t blame the public servants for feeling angry over some of the rhetoric the rich men and women of Westminster have used in the argument over pensions – but I fear they will ultimately have no alternative but to accept the changes proposed by the government.

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