Pensions 'time bomb' keep on ticking

Mar 02 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Four out of ten workers are not saving for their retirement, according to research published ahead of the second reading of the government's Pensions Bill, raising renewed fears of the potential impact of the UK's pensions 'time bomb'.

In a survey 600 people of working age commissioned by Amicus, the UK's largest private sector union, four out of ten said they had neither occupational or private pension schemes.

This figure rises substantially in certain age groups, with two-thirds of 16-24 year olds and almost half of the group closest to retirement age (55-64 year olds) having no pension provision at all.

Only on in five had a private pension, while a quarter contributed to an occupational scheme.

Despite this, pensions rank in the top three of people's 'life' concerns and almost three-quarters of those interviewed believe that compulsory pension contributions are the only way of ensuring people save for their retirement.

The government also comes in for heavy criticism. More than three-quarters of those questioned said the government is not doing enough to protect people's pensions and nearly half said that the way the government deals with the pensions crisis will effect the way they vote in the next election.

Although more respondents said that they trusted the Labour Party to protect their pension than any other political party, half said they don't trust any of the political parties to protect their pensions.

Union officials said they were "shocked" at the results.

Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, said: "Clearly people are concerned about their income in retirement and the Government has a duty to ensure that people's lives after work are safe and comfortable."

"The good news for the government is that pensions is potentially a huge vote winner if they are bold in tackling the pensions crisis."

Amicus is one of the organisations campaigning for compulsory pension contributions by workers and employers, legal protection for pensions and consultation rights for scheme members.

Almost nine out of ten of the respondents (and almost all of those with occupational schemes) also say employers should be legally obliged to consult pensions scheme members on changes to the schemes. Member consultation rights are completely missing from the Pensions Bill.

More than eight out of ten also feel that pension income should be legally protected.