Today’s ‘gig economy’ millennials and those retiring after them could face an impoverished retirement if the UK’s low and unequal state pension is not reformed.
The National Pensioners’ Convention latest webinar today (18 June) – State Pension Inequality and Pensioner Poverty - heard expert speakers call for an overhaul of the two-tier UK state system.
With two million* retirees judged to be living in poverty right now (*Age UK), and the gender pension gap between men and women sitting at 40%, speakers at the NPC webinar said the situation would only get worse for tomorrow’s pensioners if nothing changes.
Daniella Jenkins, Pension’s Policy Adviser with the influential Women’s Budget Group said: “Saddled with student debt, higher housing costs and flat wages and now the pandemic, Millennials and later generations face a new future pensions crisis. Women, so often an afterthought in pensions reform, remain worse off with only a fifth of the retirement income of their male counterparts. Meanwhile with pension funds continue to make eye watering profits supported by tax breaks and murky fees.”
Daniella was joined in the online discussion, part of the NPC’s virtual Annual Convention webinar series this June, by: TUC Pensions Policy Officer Jack Jones; NPC Pensions Expert Bob Pinkerton; event chair and NPC Pensions & Income Working Party Chair, Brian Sturtevant; and NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt.
Talking about her own recent research with Millenials (born 1980 to 1995), Daniella told the panel: “Of the women in my sample, one in three had gaps in state pension contributions and three quarters had gaps in occupational pension contributions, this was despite the fact that most began work after auto enrolment was introduced in 2012. Contribution gaps were largely driven by employment patterns, whereby just over a third of the participants were in full time work, but also affordability - a number of women said they were not paid enough to be able to afford to contribute to a pension - so poverty is feeding future poverty.
“We have the opportunity particularly in the wake of Covid to improve the design of our systems to make them fairer and more sustainable…. through greater state provision, a fairer system of taxation and less reliance on profit making financial institutions.”
TUC Pensions Advisory Officer Jack Jones also believes there is an opportunity to alter the pensions system on a number of fronts at the moment. He said: “The overall design of our pensions system is the problem. What we’ve got is a system where a lot of people’s experience in the labour market is required to provide a large chunk of their retirement income. As a result you are going to have inequalities.
“Even if we accept that occupational pensions continue to provide a big chunk of our retirement income, we still have a state pension that is too low to provide a safety net. I think you need a state pension that underwrites the occupational system, so that even if people fail, for whatever reason, to build up that workplace pension pot, we will have a state pension system that will stop people falling into poverty in old age.”
NPC Pensions Expert Bob Pinkerton told the webinar that the NPC is committed to everyone receiving a decent basic state pension which is not less than 70% of living wage, which is around £220 (compared the current top rate of £179.40).
He said: “As a percentage of average earnings, the UK state pension is the worst in the developed world. While the UK state pension is worth 29% of average earnings France was 74.5%, Germany 50.5% and the USA 49.1%. The most generous state pension in the world is the Netherlands where the payments are slightly higher than average earnings 100.6%.”
The full webinar video can be viewed here:
You can find out more about the speaker by clicking below
Thanking the webinar speakers and the online audience, NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “The session today has been amazing with the wealth of knowledge from all our speakers making it relevant to those already retired and for those yet to retire. The quality of questions from those participating reflects how very important our work is on this subject.”
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The next NPC Annual Convetion Webinar is on Monday, June 21 - 14:00 - 16:00
‘Who Cares? The Future of Health and Care,’ the speakers include:
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Prof. Epidemiology & Public Health, UCL.
Tracey Jarrett, Lewisham Pensioners’ Forum.
Johnbosco Nwogbo, Campaign Officer , We Own It.
Register here to attend: