Till death us do work…

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Social Commentary
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Driving home from work today I heard a news bulletin that spoke of the governments plans to simplify the state pension scheme.  The idea is for there to be one single-tier state pension instead of the complex and somewhat inexplicable version that is currently in place.

As I continued to listen an expert, I can’t remember what she was an expert in, stated that her fear was that the government would back-track at some point and fail to follow through with this new proposal.  I guess she was still reeling from the news that the government had a pause for thought moment on their, again, controversial plans to revamp the NHS.

And it was here, in this world of unease and uncertainty about whether or not this government, or any government for that matter, would stand fast and draw a line in the sand about pensions that made me think, not for the first time, that I, and many others of my generation, face the entirely realistic prospect of having to work until we die.

I’ll say that again – work until we die…

The age of retirement has moved more times in my lifetime than I am comfortable with; each time creeping that little bit closer to the magic life expectancy for a UK male or female.  Whilst I have to admit that I am concerned about the prospect of brain cells dying off if they aren’t to be engaged by the day-to-day grind of going to work, I think I am more disheartened, no – not disheartened, aghast at the thought the age of retirement may well make it to the other side of 80 by the time I am due to retire – if fate should be so kind, or cruel – depending on your outlook on life, to let me live that long.

I mean, what an utterly depressing thought – that you could work your entire life, being the dutiful citizen that we all know you are, whilst continually seeing that dream of retiring to the sun or the coast, country, <insert dream here> become more and more of a pipe-dream because there are not enough funds in the public coffers.

Not enough money in the pension fund…  How many times have we heard that in the past decade or so?  Black-hole in the pension fund being another; whether we are talking about a private fund or the chancellor balancing the books.  So you could be forgiven for asking why you should continue to make contributions if you are merely tipping your hard-earned cash into what might potentially be a monumental money-pit.

In fact, someone did ask me that very thing; someone who had previously asked me why I paid payment protection or bought extended warranty’s, long before all the consumer affairs programmes started to shine the spotlight on those companies that were basically defrauding the public of, again, their hard-earned cash.

This same person asked why they should pay into a pension fund when the government would provide them with one anyway; that the government would look after them when they reached old age – that they may as well put the money they earn into a bank account, as they’ll be means tested at the age of retirement anyway.

It kind of made me wonder then and it continues to make me wonder now – what if they are right?  What if the security of a modern-day pension is in actual fact a fallacy; what if we all face the prospect of having to work until we die?  And if we do, should we not spend our money now – rather than leave it in that fund, only to be swallowed up by that black-hole?


  1. Phil Ruse says:

    What I find rather macabre – though it makes (horrible) sense – is a private pension can sometimes pay out more if you can convince them of as many (potential) illnesses as possible, including family history. On the grounds that if they calculate a lower life expectancy they can afford to pay out more 😦

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