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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 November 2005, 11:03 GMT
Have your say: The 'pension crisis'
Two older men playing a video game
Life expectancy has improved dramatically over recent decades

There is no pension crisis and we can afford to grow old, according to a report by leading business think-tank Tomorrow's Company.

The report said rising productivity from those in work will fill the savings gap, and it will cost no more to look after the retired population in 2041 than it does now.

It said there is no need for us to save more.

We asked for your comments on the following:

What do you think? Do you believe there is a pensions crisis?

Do you expect your pension to be enough to live on?

Is the report right to say there is no point in saving more?

Has the insurance industry exaggerated the problem?

This debate is now closed. Here is a selection of your comments.

The damage Gordon Brown did to pensions when Labour came into office seems to have been forgotten. We would not be in this mess if it was not for him.
Nigel Harding

The government destroyed private sector pensions partially as a result of Gordon Brown's 5 billion annual plunder of funds. As a result, I face getting around 25% of what my pension pot would have paid out before wind-up.

The government has done absolutely nothing to remedy this. Yet we continue paying through local taxes to make up public sector pension black holes! Blair and Brown are unfit to govern this country.
Con Denvir, Dublin

Yes, I do believe there is a pension crisis. Yes, I do expect my pension to be enough to live on because I retired well before the crisis became apparent in early 1998. Yes the report is right to say there is no point in saving more because the main player in the industry, the Treasury, has got its sums wrong.

The insurance industry has not exaggerated the problem
Colston Hicks, Cardiff
Before New Labour in 1997, with a bank rate at 4.5%, the Treasury guaranteed growth (AER) to pension scheme funds of 7.5%. Today the guaranteed growth (AER) is less than 3.0%. No, the insurance industry has not exaggerated the problem.
Colston Hicks, Cardiff

This government could help the pension crisis by carrying out the following simple steps.

Reverse the 5bn raid carried out on pensions and remove the requirement to buy annuities at rip-off rates and allow more flexible arrangements as available in the US.

Remove one of the biggest disincentives to save: means-tested pensioner credits.
David Dunham, Tonbridge Wells

I have three pensions all of which I have stopped paying into. I have had them since 1985 and when I have spoken to the pension companies directly they cannot guarantee what I will get when they mature, so it is something of a lottery.

Why am I investing my money into a product that has a doubtful return?

I have spoken to my advisor about transferring my money but I get penalised for that. I have asked about using my money to buy property which I can do, but only up to 50% of my pension.

This is my money, I want it back! These pension companies are making huge profits and paying excessive bonuses and I no longer wish to finance this. Get me out!
Philip Tatham, Yorkshire

The government obviously thinks there isn't a crisis
David Skinner, East Yorkshire
The government obviously thinks there isn't a crisis or why would it continually dodge the issue? Having said that, for public service workers, MPs and so on, there isn't one, nor will there be, for the next 40 years.

It is those of us in the private sector that will spend our retirement in poverty, specifically those of us who have lost our savings due to closure of company schemes through a lack of protection and misinformation by this and previous governments.
David Skinner, East Yorkshire

There is a pensions crisis because just at the time when the system which worked well in the past needed to be boosted to cater for people living longer, confidence in it has been completely destroyed.

Members saving for their retirement were reassured by the government-regulated Minimum Funding Requirement and believed their pension was protected by law.

Gordon Brown has undermined the whole system by introducing a tax on pensions
Valerie Hadfield, Bucks
The government did not warn them that following the stock market crash, their funds were vulnerable. Instead, whilst failing to raise the Minimum Funding Requirement so that funds would be secure, Gordon Brown has undermined the whole system by introducing a tax on pensions to the tune of 5bn per year just when funds needed to be shored up.

The consequent collapse of many company pension schemes has not only left thousands of people destitute just as they reach retirement, but has forced companies to close their schemes and convinced the public at large that there is no point in trying to save for their retirement.

This is being compounded every day that the government delays in acknowledging the problem and compensating those who are suffering.
Valerie Hadfield, Bucks

Until the government sorts out the benefit mess and offers a higher state pension, there will never be a change in the right direction. Why would you want to lock your money into a defined contribution pension scheme with low charges/poor returns or high charges/poor returns.

Why is the government allowing companies to reduce limited price indexation to pay for this, further reducing the taxed income you receive in retirement?
Richard, London

So once again, we are being warned about pension black holes and a bleak old age.

Having recently taken trips to Canada and Spain and discussed pensions in detail with people there, I believe the government is deliberately feeding the "gloom and doom" scenario to reduce our expectations of a state or any other pension, thereby making it easier to raise the retirement age.

I feel shame that my country, one of the most powerful economies in the world, treats its pensioners with such utter disdain
Alan Lea, Leamington Spa
As for the miserable British state pension, let's not go there. Once again we are the poor people of Europe and the only EU country I know where people retire abroad because their derisory state pension will go further.

I don't see Frenchmen or Spaniards travelling off to Croatia so they can make ends meet on their pension. I feel shame that my country, one of the most powerful economies in the world, treats its pensioners with such utter disdain. But then again why should it be any different, when our MPs enjoy one of the best pensions in Europe.
Alan Lea, Leamington Spa

Only mugs and fools save for modest pensions. Pension credits are increased in line with wages but the basic pension is far less.

Employees who refuse to save for a modest pension enjoy increasing prosperity now and in their retirement.
Finlay McNaughtan

If there is a pension crisis, I do not see why there should be.

It could be solved at a stroke if the government raised the old age pension. Double it, treble it. After all, it would only be a loan on their part. They would get most of it back in tax within a few transactions.

And it would do wonders for the economy. But they won't, will they?

Keep the old poor and under control.
M. Latter, Tunbridge Wells

Pensions crisis? Well, for me and 85,000 others it has been more of a pensions disaster.

My experience is this: Having contributed 5% of my salary and more to my company final salary scheme for over 38 years, the company - although still solvent - has decided to walk away from its obligations, despite an extensive written guarantee.

Also, the government gave us a guarantee and repeated assurance that our pensions were secure.

The vastly reduced pension I have been given falls well short of my needs
John Hunt, Nottingham
Four years after my entitled retirement and two years after attempting to claim my entitlement because the company persuaded me to defer collection, I have been paid only one sixth of my rightful entitlement.

So who is to blame? Irrespective of political affiliation, the government's performance on this issue over the last eight years has been diabolical.

The vastly reduced pension I have been given falls well short of my needs.

I suggest that given the above experience there is little point in saving for your old age at all.

Is your pension safe? I don't think so.
John Hunt, Nottingham

Young people will not save because they have heard all the stories about people losing all or most of their pension savings
Barry Digwood
Young people will not save because they have heard all the true horror stories about people losing all or most of their pension savings.

The government needs to do something to be able to draw a line under the scandal by paying full compensation to the people affected.
Barry Digwood

There is a very real pensions crisis for the 85,000 people who have saved for a company occupational pension and then find they have lost it when the scheme has been wound up.

The government is responsible for this part of the pensions crisis but appears loath to do anything about it.
Andrew Parr, Sheerness

The only people who believe that there is not a pensions crisis are totally divorced from the real world. As one of the 85,000 deferred pensioners who have lost all or most of their lives' savings I can assure you that living through the hell of the past three years has caused severe suffering to my wife and children as well as leaving me a failed old man unable to support himself never mind his dependants.
Hugh Ferguson, Northern Ireland

I believe there is a pensions crisis. I personally have lost out.

I am sceptical that the PPF will have any money left when I am at retiring age in 20 plus years, and I now know that I will have to have to have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds to get to a position for my recently started stakeholder to give me a half decent amount in my pension.

So, yes, I think there is/will be a pension crisis.
Kevin Mark Robinson, Knutsford

Every company must be made to provide a single pension scheme, providing the same ratio of benefits for every employee from the youngest trainee to the managing director.

Contributions holidays should be made illegal. Closing final salary pension schemes should be prevented.

The biggest problem we have is that employers took contribution holidays in the fat years
Julian Powell, Gloucester
Every pension scheme should elect 75% of trustees from those eligible to benefit from the scheme (50% contributors, 25% retired), and the arrangements for nominating candidates and carrying out elections should be sent directly by the trustees to the contributors and beneficiaries.

The biggest problem we have is that employers took contribution holidays in the fat years, failing to build up a reserve for the lean years. The chancellor then taxed schemes excessively.

Trustee appointments should be changed to trustee election, as it is often perceived that trustees are representatives of the executive, and do not have the best interests of the beneficiaries to mind.
Julian Powell, Gloucester

I hear little mention of the greatest pensions problem. Men aged between 60 to 65 do not receive the pensions women receive from age 60.

Let men 60 to 65, who have paid for their pension, receive equal treatment
Robin Elley Jones, Wirral
What is the government prepared to do about this? Nothing! What do women do about this? Those who opted to pay only a reduced NI contribution moan that they do not receive a pension!

Let men aged 60 to 65, who have paid for their pension, receive equal treatment now!
Robin Elley Jones, Wirral

Most definitely there is a pensions crisis. As a victim, I can absolutely assure you that all of my children have made it very clear that they are not going to put money aside unless and until there are safeguards that their money will not be taken away in later years.

Confidence in saving has got to come first and only the government can instil this.
Adrian Wilkins, Chelmsford

Of course there is a pension's crisis - NOW for many, never mind in the future.

My husband and I are only two of the 80,000+ individuals who have lost their pension entitlement as a result of the collapse of our occupational pension scheme.

Throughout our working lives we have done as the government was recommending, saving for our future by belonging to an occupational pension scheme.

We have no confidence whatsoever about throwing more money into a pension scheme
Sue Bebbington, Isle of Mull
The government literature indicated these schemes were safe and protected by law.

The PPF and FAS will be of limited benefit to the majority of the 80,000. We certainly are not expecting to receive a penny despite each of us contributing to our employer's scheme for 22 years.

Neither of us are earning very much now and, even if we could afford to, we have no confidence whatsoever about throwing more money into a pension scheme.

Our big worry also is that too few people currently in occupational pension schemes realise how little the PPF will compensate them if/when their schemes are wound up.
Sue Bebbington, Isle of Mull

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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