24 cheers for The Pension Play Pen Lunch

There’s a fine tradition in this country of people getting together in coffee houses and taverns and sorting out how and with whom business should be transacted. This was how the insurance market was founded in London and it still is how farmers meet on market day. Drive past a pub on a main road with a big car park and you might see a fleet of vans.  

In this tradition we set up two years ago the Pension Play Pen Lunch, we meet once a month in a pub in Cornhill London EC2, other groups have sprung up in Leeds and Manchester and most recently a group is starting in Reading. The purpose of these lunches is to get people fed and watered in a convivial atmosphere, for views to be be shared and contested and for votes to be taken on agreed debating points which can be recorded and shared with the Pension Play Pen a linked in group of 1500 pension people.

These lunches are not sponsored and people typically pay £15 for a “pie and a pint”.

The consumption of alcohol is encouraged in moderation as a tongue loosener, many however are happy to drink soft drinks and this is not frowned upon

Lunches are moderated by chairpeople such as myself and votes are taken through the chair.

That’s about as formal as it gets.

 Next month’s lunch – which will happen confusingly on October 31st will discuss the question “are employers responsible for DC outcomes?”. It’s a tough question, as Beecroft has recently pointed out, we have come to view the workplace as the panacea for the nation’s ills and the poor employer as the workhorse for legislative solutions that are becoming increasingly onerous. On the other hand, we can point to a fine tradition of occupational pensions in which employers have voluntarily entered into an agreement with staff to guarantee DB outcomes. Might there not be a latent moral obligation for the expectation of a worker that the employer will provide?

I am  sure that such a debate could be conducted in many other forums and it probably will be. Those not able to get to the lunches typically express their views in the comment boxes on the threads that announce the lunches on the  “PEnsion Play Pen”.  These comments are weaved into the debates by the chairpeople to broaden the debate and maintain balance.

The outputs of the debate are of course of little statistical value – groups of ten to twenty in discussion for an hour over a pie and a pint can hardly frame Government policy. However, they inform on that debate. So far we have not had anyone from Government at such debates  (either as observer or contributor). It would be great if we did. No matter, if these groups continue to meet and to multiply then I hope they will inspire those who consult with Government to share ideas that can be to the general good.

A lot of people decry social media as a waste of time. When this is thrown at me (I spend time organising the Play Pen), I point to the fact that this lunch will be the 24th consecutive lunch in London over a two year period. During that time over 250 different people have attended (I have the list). Many friendships have been initiated, many business relationships developed and much good work has followed.

The means of organising these lunches is new, but the value of the lunch is precisely that envisaged by the London merchants meeting in Lloyd’s coffee house 250 years ago. We can be justly proud of ourselves. I hope that someone reading this blog in Northampton or Middlesbrough, Yeovil or Workington, will feel inspired to set up a lunch group of their own.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to 24 cheers for The Pension Play Pen Lunch

  1. Pingback: Rising to Beecroft’s challenge- can we make pensions work for micro-employers? « Henrytapper's Blog

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