UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

The reform that breaks the camel’s back?

Trade union leaders have been warning for some time now that it would be pensions reform — not pay freezes or job cuts — that could prove the trigger for widespread public sector strikes this year.

Now activists, eager to punish the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, have all the ammunition they need in the Hutton pension review.

Few can argue that pensions do not need to be reformed. People in Britain are living longer, making it more expensive for the government and taxpayer to fund pension payments.

And private sector workers have long grumbled that the public sector has it too good when it comes to retirement.

Raising the pension age

BRITAIN/The Conservatives say they plan to raise the retirement age for men to 66 from 65 by 2016 if they win power, a measure that could raise 13 billion pounds to help plug the huge shortfall in the public finances.

They would also hold a review of the retirement age that could speed up further rises – potentially ushering in a state pension age for both men and women of 68 as early as 2020.

Level the playing field to bring back ‘girl power’


sex-and-city.jpgWhatever happened to “girl power”? The phrase became a cultural phenomenon after the formation of the Spice Girls pop band in 1994, and was adopted as the mantra for millions of girls, even making it into the Oxford English Dictionary.

But, it seems that many fans — now grown women — are relinquishing this ideology in favour of that portrayed in a later cult classic: Sex and the City. Today’s generation of single women are relying on finding their “Mr Big” to fund their future and are investing a significant amount of time, effort and money in pursuit of the Carrie dream, a survey shows.

Pensioners ripped off by “antithesis of plain English”


pensioners1.jpgThe “open market option”: it sounds like complex financial jargon. But  it’s certainly worth knowing about. For, when it comes to retirement, it could boost your income by almost 25,000 pounds.

A 65-year-old woman with 100,000 pounds-worth of pension savings could be missing out on a staggering 24,162 pounds by failing to exercise this right; a man by 23,025 pounds, according to numbers crunched by independent financial service provider Hargreaves Lansdown. That is around the same as average annual earnings in the UK last year — 23,764 pounds, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Long life? It could be seriously bad for your wealth


pensioners.jpgLong life: it might be seen as a blessing, but increasing longevity poses one of the biggest risks to our financial wellbeing.

A person aged 55 today has a one in two chance of living to 90 and a one in four chance of living to 95, according to acturial consultancy Watson Wyatt. By 2010 the number of pensioners will, for the first time, exceed the number of children in the population, according to the Office for National Statistics, and by 2031 there will be 40,000 people aged 100 or over, compared to just 300 in 1951.