Pensions Victorious, Happy and glorious!

The image is of the transit of Venus taken from deep space (more here).

“In the gloom the gold gathers the light about it”

The British weather didn’t do us many favours over our long weekend but as we got soaked at our parties or – like my family, on the London Streets– it concentrated the mind.

John Reeve asked the question on mallowstreet “How has our (pension) industry changed under Queen Elizabeth II?) the link taking you to one answer including a statement that

“A boy born in 1952 was expected to live to 78 and a girl to 83. A boy born in 2012 is expected to live to 91 and a girl to 94.”

The Beveridge Report  was published in 1942 and like the Queen, has been adopted as part of the fabric of our society. Beveridge recommended that policies of social security

“must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual”

This idea of the State involved the wider context rather than the critical problems of the day. The State incorporates not just those born at the time the report was published (who are 70 today, but those like me born in the 60s and my son born around the millennium and indeed my grandchildren yet to be born.

I was struck , as I think all on the London Streets were, by the diversity of our nation. The crowd not only absorbed the tourists (many citizens of the Commonwealth), but recently nationalised Britains as well as those of us who’ve been here a bit longer. To me it’s happy and glorious to live in Britain and for a long weekend to go off like this without any signs of intolerance.

Perhaps this is the big picture change in our Society that John’s question asked for. We are no longer the Britain that had saved Europe from Fascism but Britain that has adapted and adopted to become the most diverse and tolerant nation in the world. I think that all British people felt something of this this weekend.

John’s question went a little further by looking at the specific impact of the past 60 years on the pensions industry and again I feel proud to be British. We have adapted and adopted. The grand vision of a final salary system that would provide a third pillar to our pension system that replaced two thirds of salary in retirement was and remains a fabulous aspiration.

But our conception of “retirement” needs to be adapted and a new understanding be adopted. If we are now expecting to live 12 years longer than we were 60 years ago and our idea of a retirement age is still in the early to mid-sixties then there is a little “adapting and adopting to be done”.

If we can start doing that, and that starts with those of us in our fifties and sixties who will have to accept that we overpaid in benefits to some of those in retirement today then we will be able to return to some form of consensus.

The spirit of Beveridge was co-operation. The report is bold and ambitious but it is also tolerant.

The strikes we see today are not in the spirit of Beveridge, nor are the inequalities we have between the pension haves and the have nots. We need to reorganise our pension systems to be fairer to all and that is what Government is there to do.

For our pension systems, as well as our nation to be happy and glorious, we should look beyond the clouds and see the bigger picture.

Scroll back to that picture of the sun this morning with Venus, the black dot. You couldn’t see that from your bedroom window when you woke up, but it was there!

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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