Heaven can’t wait – stand up for your rights!

But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights.

All my time working in “retirement planning”, I’ve been taught that retirement happens in the future. But now that I am in my sixties, it is something that is happening around me. People I know are retiring and many are retiring on very little pension , using their pension savings as a bridge to when they get their state pension , as if the state pension were something to retire on.

Many of those who retire on the state pension , do not get the full state pension because for various reasons, they do not qualify for it. For these people there is pension credit. An estimated 30% of those eligible for pension credit don’t claim it. It is not just a valuable top-up income, it is the “door to more”, unlocking help with the rent, council tax, tv licences and more.

It pains me that I have ignored pension credit for so long. Like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, I know what life is worth and it’s worth living to the max as a pensioner. Heaven isn’t under earth, it should be here right now – no wait!

We spend so much time and money on pension saving , investing huge amounts of an organisation’s HR budget on pensions only to see many of those we provide pensions for, failing to pick up the state benefits to which they are entitled – either because they don’t know about them, don’t think they apply to them or because they think that claiming them would debar them from other more important things.

Like Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, I’m suggesting that people stand up and claim their rights but I know that there’s a “down pressor man” standing in their way. And it pains me to say it, but that same down pressor man, is me, or at least the me who used to think that it was somebody else’s business to talk about pension credit.

I got to meet the Government’s working group on pension credit last week. The first thing I noticed that I was the only person (out of about 30) that were on the call, from the private sector. There is another person from the private sector in the group but she wasn’t on the call and anyway I am sworn to secrecy about who said what.

But what was said was a little disappointing not least because any meaningful conversation about pensions needs to be engaging with more than the public sector but also because the public sector seem to see pension credit as a secondary issue relative to housing benefit and attendance allowance which get rents and care bills paid. In short, pension credit doesn’t seem to be about pensioners standards of living so much as helping local authorities balance their books. A sorry look out for poor pensioners.

But more than this, the acute issues of “heating or eating” that are faced by many poor pensioners do not seem to have touched many of the people on the call as the calamity they are. How can we have people going to food banks and not claiming state benefits to which they are entitled – which could allow them to shop without the humiliation? How come Martin Lewis is having to explain how to use hot water bottles to limit the cost of the electricity meter?

It’s like – “we’ll get round to this pension credit issue as part of our retirement planning”, not “how the hell are we letting this happen?”

You can’t say that going to a shop rather than a food bank is like heaven – because it isn’t. But pension credit isn’t backdated, so every week that ticks by with £1.8bn pa going unclaimed in pension credit is another week when heaven is under earth.

It’s time we got the private sector properly engaged with this nonsense. If we provide private sector pensions as a reward for service, why do we deny assistance getting pension credit to our pensioners? Why do we fund institutions like Nest Insight and Phoenix Insights to worry about sidecar savings, but not engage with the pension credit working group on improving participation rates.

Why do we expect fintechs like AgeWage and Inbest AI to campaign for the automation of the pension credit application process when the entire pensions industry is gearing up for data sharing through the pension dashboard. Come to think of it, has anyone considered the link between private pension entitlements , the state pension and state benefits (other than Gareth Morgan).

Today is Easter Day, the day we celebrate the redemption of the world through the sacrifice of one man (who turned out to be God). Having studied the passion this last week, I know that justice is arbitrary and that institutions are self-serving. But I also know that Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were speaking well.

We know when we understand:
Almighty God is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights!

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 Heaven can’t wait – stand up for your rights!

  1. John Mather says:

    It would be helpful if the desired income outcome was defined. For example 100% of a living wage which then updated annually as a fraction of average wage otherwise the terms in the article are meaningless and open to be subject to conformational bias

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