Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Taking the Long View – Effective Pension Trusteeship in Uncertain Times.

Back again to last Friday and to the annual TUC pension’s trustee conference at Congress house. The first speaker was James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (and bad photographer).

James called Pension trustees the “unsung heroes” of financial services. This is something useful which I will store away for the future. He thought that there was a vital role for member nominated representatives to play in helping rebuild confidence in pensions.

Confidence is key to the future success (or otherwise) of Pension Personal Accounts. In the 1980’s and 1990s we had Maxwell, collapse of pension schemes, contribution holidays and the mis-selling of private pension plans. The government now has the “Architecture in Place” to help rebuild confidence. The Pension protection fund (PPF) protects some 11 million pensioners. Together with a strong regulator and compensation for those schemes that failed before the PPF.

James celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Old Age pension. He told the audience though that there use to be a “Character Test” for access to pensions in 1908. He joked that maybe this should be re-introduced for MPs before they could get their pensions! Only 25% of the population reached the age of 70 in 1908, most died in their 40’s. Only 500, 000 people were entitled to a state pension in 1909, now over 11 million. Including probably the first woman who will live in the UK to be 120, who he thought was probably 65 now and would live off her pension for the next 55 years. I think he put this fact in to make people think.

He finished off by pointing out how significant Personal Accounts will be – he estimated there will be up to 9 million extra savers and within a few years £10 billion of extra savings.

Could we be finally, starting the long and tortuous journey to the abolition of poverty for all in old age?


Robert said...

No poverty under Labour how long has Labour got 1000 years. I know this bloke wants all the disabled back into work. this week my disability employment officer who has been off sick with stress for six months went on to IB, before she left she told me after three years in the job she had placed six disabled people into jobs and five are now back onto IB because they were released before the year was up. Good old Purnell

John Gray said...

Hi Robert
So we give up and don't encourage disabled people to go back to work?