2021-07-05 jiangye111 9010
The pension triple-lock is an insult to the UK’s young people
-While Boris Johnson panders to older voters, younger generations’ prospects are bleaker than ever


(‘Baby boomers have colossal untaxed wealth in homes that have risen in value by more than 300% in the past three decades.’ Leverstock Green, near Hemel Hempstead.)


Here’s a tale of two generations, the pensioners and young workers. As the pandemic furlough winds down this week, one generation is destined for a mighty windfall from the government while the other gets nothing. The reason is clear: the Tories win three times more votes from one group than the other.


As of this week, employers start picking up the furlough bill, previously paid by the government, and many will let staff go, with their businesses still running on empty. Most of those losing jobs will be young people in the low-paid hospitality, arts, entertainment and tourism sectors, who, warns the Resolution Foundation, will struggle to find work: reports of worker shortages “have been overplayed”, and so have reports of steep pay rises. But those artificial pay-rise figures are about to deliver a bonanza for pensioners.


We can expect a fight between prime minister and chancellor: that age-old strife between a voter-pleasing big spender in No 10 and a fiscal rectitude-obsessed penny-pincher next door. With every minister pressing for funds in the autumn spending review, the question of uprating the pension is primal: every Tory MP was elected on a manifesto pledge to keep the pension triple lock in perpetuity.

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Butowing to a statistical accident, the chancellor finds it an exceptionally expensive promise. The pledge is to uprate pensions by consumer price inflation, by 2.5%, or by the rise in average earnings – whichever is the highest. But by a freak of the pandemic, wages appear to have risen by 5.6%, and later this month some economists predict a rise to 8%. Don’t imagine ordinary earners have really received this rise: the measure compares artificially low pay at the height of the first wave, when about 10 million furloughed workers lost 20% of their pay, with now. Low earners losing their jobs altogether takes them out of the figures, making the average rise look artificially high. Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation explains it like this: in a couple where one earns, say, £10,000 and the other £30,000, if the low earner loses their job, the couple’s average pay rises – because one drops out of the pay calculation altogether. He suggests the underlying rate is really just over 2%.


To keep the triple lock will cost at least a walloping £4bn, yet again tilting state support towards all pensioners – regardless of their wealth – and away from working families and children. Ever since the triple lock was instituted, pensioners have gained, while a decade of benefit cuts has taken at least £37bn away from families. Yet when earnings growth was negligible last year pensioners still got their 2.5% increase, and now this injustice between generations may be exacerbated even further.


The UK’s 12 million pensioners are already the group least likely to be poor, a historic transformation achieved under Labour, when a million were lifted above the poverty threshold. The blessed baby boomer generation has never-to-be-repeated private pensions, and colossal untaxed wealth in the value of homes bought cheaply, the value of which has risen by over 300% in the last three decades. Three-quarters of pensioners are homeowners.

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But there are some very poor pensioners, the oldest tending to be poorest, 2.1m of whom urgently need support. Labour introduced pension credit to top up pensions of those with virtually no other income. But here’s the scandal: nearly a million are not claiming an already too-low pension credit, losing on average £32 a week. Two hundred thousand pensioner households fail to claim an average £62 in housing benefit. Older single women, who have the lowest pensions, are owed most. Many miss out not through pride, but because they don’t know their rights or need help to claim, so more than £2bn sits in the Treasury unclaimed every year.


Since everyone gets their basic state pension, the Department for Work and Pensions knows exactly where these non-claiming poor pensioners are and should be commissioning councils, Age UK and Citizens Advice to contact every one of them. It’s an amusing irony that, now the over-75s are starting to have to pay for their TV licences – unless they draw pension credit – an avalanche of new pension credit claims is expected, which may end up costing the government a fat slice of the money it cut from the BBC.


The government needs to give poor pensioners increased pension credit, then abandon the triple lock. Also people of working age shouldn’t pay for the awaited new social care system, which must come from the property wealth of the old themselves. Nor should the chancellor try to balance his debts on the backs of the young, who have the least. “Levelling up” should mean fairness between the generations too, so give a high priority to restoring the billions denied to schools to catch up on academic time lost during the pandemic, and for their lost arts and sports. The Resolution Foundation describes how the jobs and careers landscape for the young is causing a mental health crisis, all as their chances of buying a home are receding. Bell says the UK has far greater wealth than any EU country, though it sits there in bricks and mortar, out of reach for most young people.


Despite recent talk of too many graduates, in the UK just 50% of the population has a degree, compared with an OECD average of 70%. That’s according to Prof Bobby Duffy’s forthcoming book, Generations: Does When You’re Born Shape Who You Are? But his research shows how forgiving the young are too. They don’t blame the old for stealing their future. “They don’t want to mug Grandma,” according to Duffy. People live in families, not in generational isolation; and they’re well aware that they will grow old too.


There’s no reason to play off the needs of the young against the old. But if Boris Johnson insists on bribing voters by keeping the pension triple lock this year when it makes no sense, then the young should also get many multiples of that – if his much vaunted “levelling up” is to mean anything at all.


We either need a form of wealth tax or means testing for pensions, because the constant transfer of wealth from young to old is destroying the country. I'd also settle for extending the state pension to all adults as a UBI, but then that's dreaming.


It’s not really the transfer from young to old that is the problem, it’s the transfer from poor to rich.Sure the old get a larger chunk of what’s left but let’s be realist, UK pension is shit. The fact that the rest of welfare is even shittier in comparison is distraction, we need better welfare overall and the people with the money to pay for it are busy pointing fingers in every directions: pensioner, immigrant, “scrounger”, urban working class, liberals, …
The only thing we can blame the pensioner for is actively promoting the scapegoating bullcrap of their overlords.


Regardless of overall wealth inequality, the transfer from a poorer group to a less poor group is a problem. A wealth tax would fund pensions using the money of the wealthy and ensure the transfer of wealth moves downwards rather than upwards. But in the absence of a wealth tax, it is still an improvement to stop transferring wealth from the already far less wealthy young people.


the real salt in the wound is the costs of the pandemic that was overwhelmingly to protect pensioners, being dumped on the young rather than dare touch the sacred triple lock.

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The boomers are where they are today because their parents and grandparents made sacrifices for them in two world wars.
Now the boomers have reached a point in the circle of life where it's clearly the turn of the younger generation to make sacrifices for them.
And just for good measure they stole the next generation's future from them by voting for Brexit.


Anyone else considering suicide when they get too old to earn?
Seems like in 20-30 years, it might be the logical/rational thing to do.

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I fully expect to reach a point in the not too distant future where it will seem like the best option. And the worst thing about it is I don't think it will matter at all. The people who run the country are in it to make as much money as possible and once things turn against them they'll have their escape plan. Whether a bunch of people are suffering and chuck themselves into the abyss won't bother them in the slightest.

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I don't pay into a pension because I'd rather have that extra few £ a month right now, I'm poor enough without paying into something I'll never get to use. I'm not planning on being alive for long enough to need one.
My only retirement plan is to die young.


FishUK_HarpNeoliberal Shill
Means test it and remove the guaranteed growth element. "Pensioner" is no longer a by-word for poverty; they on average as a group have more disposable income than working families.
I'm sick and tired of people who failed to take basic steps like saving for retirement claiming they "deserve" their state pension. It's even worse coming from those with an expensive house - having a high-value asset you're emotionally attached to shouldn't give you an excuse to sponge off the state.

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J37__ 23
For many people when they bought their houses they were not an investment, it was a roof over their head, somewhere to raise a family and make families.
Housing as an investment has caused a lot of problems and will continue to till we as a society accept a roof over your head is a need not a right for those with enough money.


Stop pitting Young vs the the Old. One day we are all going to be too old to work and pensions should be protected for that reason as wages for most people are not high enough to put into a pension yourself. Pensions and benefits are a tiny fraction of the UK's budget where Tax Avoidance costs the UK 100x more in comparison.
First they used immigrants as a scapegoat for this countries problems to convince sheep that cutting benefits & brexit was a good idea. Now they are going after the elderly to screw over everyone.
You know what's a insult to the UK's young people? Insulting their intelligence. The only young people buying this tripe are the ones that bought into brexit.
Wages are too low in this country but that has nothing to do with pensions and everything to do with the people we keep voting into power. (brexit will make it worse as its been a nightmare for all UK businesses) Reducing pensions won't help any young people get better wages but it will fk them once they get too old to work. You basically get double fked. Wages too low to save for a pension while your young + non-existent pension once you can no longer work.

别再挑拨年轻人 VS 老年人了。总有一天,我们也都会因为太老而无法工作,养老金应该得到保护,因为大多数人的工资都没有高到可以自己存养老金。养老金和福利只占英国预算的一小部分,相比之下,避税造成的损失在英国高达100倍。
这个国家的工资太低了,但这与养老金无关,而是与我们投票选出的人有关。(英国脱欧会让情况变得更糟,因为这对所有英国企业来说都是一场噩梦)减少养老金不会帮助任何年轻人获得更好的工资,但一旦他们太老无法工作,就会让他们失业。你基本上得到了双倍的cao:工资太低无法存养老金 + 一旦你不能再工作了,你领不到养老金。

I agree with your sentiments but need to address the inaccuracies.
Pensions and benefits are a tiny fraction of the UK's budget where Tax Avoidance costs the UK 100x more in comparison.
Pensions and benefits are the largest single line item in the budget ("social protection"), more than 2x Healthcare, more than Education, Defence, Transport and Agriculture all rolled together.
About 35% of all public spending.
Tax Avoidance
HMRC estimate we lost ... a staggering .... £1.7B to tax avoidance in 2018-2019. The total "tax gap" which includes other underpayments is just over £30B.
Even the estimate by the PCS unx (main unx at HMRC) was £120B - which is about half the welfare budget, not 100x more, and just about covers the pension spend.
Wages are too low in this country but that has nothing to do with pensions.
"Wages are low" only matters relative to cost-of-living, and cost-of-living is high here - and this has plenty to do with pensions.
Our public pension is crap, compared to many in Europe, so people have tended to want other investments, and one of the most reliable has been property - most notably, ex council houses, which the government sold at a discount to many of the people at pension age now.
Things like Equity Release Schemes, where you sell your house to a big landlord in exchange for a lump sum and a free tenancy until you die, have been taking up the slack for our public pensions - now 40% of the council houses sold under Right to Buy belong to landlords.
This inflates the property market, by reducing the supply of council housing, along with the other policies that Tory governments push on property, like insisting that councils cannot rent property out more cheaply than "market rate".
And so we end up in a situation where property prices rise above inflation. As you say - your wages are too low to save for a pension, because your landlord is gobbling the largest single chunk of them.
Cost of living is high here, because the rentier class are taking a massive cut of everything - your rent, the rent your employer pays, the interest on the loans. It's a big part of the reason we can't compete as a labour force on the global stage.
IMHO the number one issue that needs addressing is social housing - which would stabilise or deflate the property market, which would reduce it's power as a massive siphon of the wealth generated by the workers of this country. Which is why the Tories won't be doing that.


For me the selfishness comes from demanding something they know will be unsustainable in the longer-term without the state pension age continuing to increase for the next generation(s).
Whilst life expectancy has gone up over previous decades the curve is flattening, and just because someone is alive for longer does not mean they will be able to work for longer, particularly if their chosen profession necessitates a certain level of physical health/fitness.
I dread to think what the state pension age will be when it comes my turn to enter retirement, and think it is very likely that whatever turns out to be the case will leave me with fewer 'golden years' in a reasonable state of physical health during which I I'll be able to relax after a lifetime of work than my parents have had.

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How dare these old people work all their lives and enjoy retirement