Margaret Thatcher began her pension reforms with the Social Security Act of 1980. This saw the correlation between average earnings and state pension increases severed, with the aim to reduce public spending. Pensions were treated like unemployment and sickness benefits (generally accepted as being short-term in nature) and increased in line with inflation.


Inevitably this meant that the value of state pensions, like other “benefits” reduced over time and the UK system is now one of the least generous, when compared with average earnings, in the developed world. Despite great pressure from people like Barbara Castle, the Labour governments from 1997 – 2010 did nothing to reverse this. The “triple lock” (meaning that pensions should rise by, inflation, average earnings or 2%, whichever was the greatest) was introduced by the Cameron-Clegg government in 2011 as a way to try to redress this and, unless I’m misreading her, Theresa has not ruled out, indeed has hinted at, its abolition.


It is said that Britain cannot afford even this niggardly pension due to the rise in the number of people annually reaching retirement age, and their propensity, having reached it, to live much longer than they used to. It is true that pensions cost over £100 billion a year, and that due to mismanagement of finances over the years, not a single penny of this is “funded”. In short, it has to come out of current taxation. Apparently, no one had the foresight to account for the inevitable ageing of the baby boomers or, despite it being a gradual process, the lengthening of life expectancy.

Of course, the pension age is rising to 66 by 2020, and then to 68 by 2028… and presumably on an ever upward trajectory as life expectation rises. But this will make little difference to the overall cost, as vast numbers of 60+ people are unemployed and although life expectancy has increased, people are not necessarily proportionally healthier as they grow older.


I was somewhat surprised to see the Express’s front page story about Mrs May being more popular than any other prime minister since Churchill on the basis of her pensions pledge. I thought what she said was pretty ambiguous.

Of course pensions will rise. Even under Mrs Thatcher they rose. But Hammond has hinted that they may be subject to the same sort of restraints as other benefits…ie a reduction in real value.


All is not lost though. If you wish to do well as an OAP you could do worse than become an MP. They seem to have received generous pay increases in the recent past, and of course, at £300 a day, a peer of the realm is well rewarded for snoozing his life away.


51 thoughts on “PROMISE ON PENSIONS?”

  1. It is striking to learn from conversations and canvassing how many people believe that there is a “fund” and consequently fail to grasp – or actively deny -the significance of a diminishing proportion of working population paying the taxes which actually “fund” current pensions. ” Ah’ve peyed in so mah pensions safe….”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. In the first link I looked at the table and was astounded to see that the Daily Express, a comic if ever there was one, was included in the “mid-range” category.

        We should be proud of Wings. That is a seriously important figure and the site is an important asset to our movement.

        As for the ignorance… That’s thanks in a great part to the Mail, Express, Sun, Star and Telegraph.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not an unreasonable supposition. Folk have paid all their lives and lord knows there’s money to burn when it comes to doing up palaces, so they assume there will be “their” pension pot.

      Aye, well….


  2. Someone has to pay for Brexit. Perhaps May takes the view that pensioners should pay for it because they voted for it more than any other age group? Ok, that’s unlikely. It’s probably more that victory is so assured she can afford to lose votes in the age group most likely to vote.

    I wonder what the figures are for private pension provision across Europe. For example, my employer here plays double the rate into my pension that I ever had in the UK. Also, house prices in the UK reduce the amount of spare money for private pensions. I would guess that the UK does particularly poorly here, given its astronomical levels of personal debt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s surprising to some how quickly that £350,000,000 a week bonus from Brexit has melted into a need to hit pensions and cancel railway projects because of what it is going to cost us.

      I’m sad to see that the upgrade of the palaces in London, will, nonetheless, go ahead as planned.

      Aye, we’re relatively unprepared with person debt at its highest since 2008 and saving at their lowest.

      Another big bag? And still Mrs May tell us that it’s all going swimmingly; we’ve all got behind Brexit and she’s strong and stable.


      1. The most incredible part is that there still isn’t a statistical swing against Brexit. Turkeys and Christmas and all that. Why aren’t people furious? Are they still hopeful? It’s a mystery.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No idea. Clearly, the promises made in advance are going to be broken one after the other.
        £350m, taking back control, getting rid of immigrants, fantastic trade deals from a queue of countries dying to trade with the British Empire…

        And yet people don’t seem to be incandescent.


        I would be.


        1. Amazing.

          All the more so because (and David has admitted this) the likelihood is that it won;t make any great difference to immigration.

          Trade deals with the likes of Indonesia and India will mean far greater access to the UK for their citizens.

          And in any case, to keep everything from the academic sector to agriculture, the NHS and coffee shops up and running, they are going to have to import labour from the EU.


  3. Personally, I think that state pensions should be equivalent to working a minimum wage job full-time.

    But then I think that MPs should only be paid minimum wage, with their only way to give themselves a pay rise being to increase the minimum wage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree about the pensions. So many people who have had a reasonable but not spectacular income find themselves in penury when they retire.

      No more treats. Just enough to stay above the water.

      I’d say MPs should have the national average wage but be forced to legislate for an increase in the minimum wage every year in line with MPs’ income.

      No one should live under the proper Living Wage.


  4. Since Thatcher,the Tories have had a not so secret policy of stealthily dismantling the welfare state.
    That is what those who support them are voting for.
    Standing on your own two feet,being independent blah blah blah,except of course when it comes to Scottish independence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. They would have liked to do it in 1951, but it would have been far too unpopular. But bit by bit they are doing it now and as you say, have been since Thatcher.


  5. People are living longer but I think many suffer health problems which are kept in check by long term medication regimes. I don’t think this necessarily equates to a decent quality of life however. Many are stuck in doors with carers visiting periodically to give personal care and are totally reliant on others to initiate any meaningful social contact or activity. A great many others are in residential care, some of which is pretty grim. In what is generally the slightly younger bracket its ridiculous to keep increasing the pension age and expecting people to be able to continue working right up to it. Some people can and do work into their 70s but they are a minority, most of us are too infirm and too washed out for the physical and mental discipline of work by that time.

    I’m trying to imagine a team meeting at my old workplace where everyone’s getting on a bit and just taking folk I know as an example, trying to anticipate the problems this could entail. Around the room there would be Prostate problems, Heart conditions, dodgy joints and other difficulties. This would require frequent toilet breaks, the furniture would need upgraded and meetings would take most of the day because many people would need to get there by public transport because they can’t drive any more. A huge cost in working hours not to mention the horrendous sickness/absence that no employer would tolerate.

    I know the above scenario is a bit tongue in cheek and I hope I haven’t offended any one but I’m merely trying to illustrate the ridiculous nature of continually raising the retirement age. As a solution private pensions would need to be across the board and very good if an underclass of elderly unemployed destitute people is not to be created. The benefits system is being dismantled just now so its probably not going to be an option. I also don’t think folk that are working and already on benefits paying their benefits into a pension makes a lot of sense and it’s certainly not realistic. What about folk on zero hours contracts?

    Its a case of yet again having a bunch of torys who are not paying attention because they’re not affected, using short term thinking to leave the problem for someone else because they couldn’t give a shit. The I’m alright Jack attitude currently prevailing is just not sustainable. Barring natural disasters wiping most people out or perish the thought, euthanasia, if the rich keep hoovering everything up for themselves then history shows it’ll get taken off them. Vive la Revolution!

    Then of course it’ll be a different bunch of greedy gits who will eat all the pies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I doubt anyone would take offence.

      People who once did physical jobs find it more and more difficult to keep energy/ strength up as they get older.

      Those in office situations find the ever changing technology had to keep up with.

      Everyone has targets now and you’ve to work flat out to achieve them in so many places.

      I can’t imagine a 70 year old police man, or train driver, or assistant in a clothes shop or a barista…

      But the people who make these rules are the people at the top. And ordinary rules don’t apply to them.

      The queen still sort of does bits of her job at 90… so why can’t the barista at Café Republic?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you remember that Tory, I can’t remember his name who a wee while ago said that old people could get jobs picking fruit? I’d like to stick him in a field overseen by a farmer wanting his money’s worth. We could run a sweep on how long he’d last.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry Tris I’m going O/T here. This is something I knocked up after reading the twitter thread of Nice Conversations the other day. Apart from the front and back pictures everything is as was tweeted on the thread. There are no additions or removals.

    The thread ran to around 50 tweets and discussed disability issues. After reading the thread I could not stop thinking about it and thought “this story needs to be spread far and wide.”

    After spending time pondering, then pondering some more I decided to act, sort of, in my own inimitable little way. The result can be seen in the link below. It is far from being perfect but perhaps someone knows someone in a independence orientated party that may want to take this, clean it up, and distribute across Scotland.

    There again maybe not. 😀

    Apologies for my wee bit of self promotion here.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Very moving.

      I can’t hep feeling that this was a bit of a mistake. I’m not sure how a government which is taking away disabled cars, and denying benefits could be so stupid as to make it look like it’s some sort of great adventure to have to have a car/scooter just to get around.

      At the very least it was tasteless. And in the week that they defended their rape clause, and tried to make it look like the Scottish government could make money available for tax credits (when they can’t), they’ve not done themselves any favours with decent people.


      1. In all honesty Tris I think the congratulations should really go to Nice Conversations who provided the text for my wee pamphletto.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is potentially very good news for the independence movement. If we can convince pensioners that their pensions are not safe within the union but would be safeguarded in an independent Scotland we could see a large number of pensioners voting for independence. They are certainly a target group where we currently lag well behind the unionists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Down now to the Scottish government to say that if they were in power in an independent Scotland they would guarantee to bring pensions up to European standards, yeah?


  8. The facts are the English Conservatives are reintroducing
    the mathematical certainty of lower national payments towards
    How they are going to achieve this is remarkably simple just
    linking individuals age of retirement with age at death to the
    smallest passage of time. Hoping and planning to ensure retirement and death are contemporaneous.
    An elegant synchronicity which gives the English Conservatives
    a final solution to the toiling masses pension demands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you are likely to die at 92, pension age will be increased to 90?

      Just imagine 86 yo bus drivers…

      I seriously don;t think, judging by their recent performance, Niko, that the Scottish Tories are any less malevolent.

      I see your blog is open again.

      But for some reason I can’t comment. Still, I listened. My that’s an oldie…


  9. Wait till they decide to means-test the retirement pension. People who paid into National Insurance all their lives in the expectation of getting a state pension at the end of it will have their entitlement reduced pro rata for any pension they managed to accrue either through employment or through private contributions. And anyone squealing will be told they’re greedy to want a top-up they don’t “need”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Conan

      Being all sphinxlike (he thinks)

      How goes the insurrection these days?

      A fresh YouGov poll for the Times on Scottish voting intentions is cheering morning news for Conservatives who still trust polls: it has the SNP on 41% (down 9 on the 2015 result), with the Tories up to 28% (+13) and Labour slipping yet further from what was already a historic low, to 18% (-6).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The scary thing is that despite the utter hopelessness of Theresa, and her rudderless team, people seem to prefer her to Jeremy. And although Ruth is continually putting her foot in it, and her nonsense about the Scottish government being able to override Tax Credit law, and Kezia acquitting herself really well this week, somehow polls are showing that Rape Clause Ruth is still doing well.


  10. Good to see that the Scottish government are banning private companies from ‘health assessments’.
    As someone that is battling through the system, I appreciate what they are doing.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I too wish you the very best of luck.

          Don’t let them off with anything. Make life hard for them. Take advice (CAB, maybe) and kick off if you are sure you are right.

          Of course, all that is dependent on your health standing it.

          They are on targets to cut your money. But if you are too much effort, they will often fold their tents and move on to someone else they can cheat.


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