Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Tuesday, 7 September 2010 11:23 UK

Most believe 'retirement as we know it is over'

Retirement couple
The default UK retirement age is to be scrapped

Nearly three quarters of people believe retirement as we currently understand it will not be possible in the future, a BBC Newsnight poll has suggested.

Some 70% of the 1,000 asked thought it would not be feasible for people to stop work then live on a pension for up to 30 years, the ComRes survey found.

Some 72% of those in work were also worried about not having the funds to live as they would like in retirement.

More than three quarters (77%) thought younger people would get a worse deal.

And more than half (54%) thought it was unfair that younger generations would be worse off than those currently approaching retirement age.

Pension changes

The poll of a cross section of adults this month follows a number of changes to retirement announced by the previous and current governments against a backdrop of an ageing population and public spending cuts.

Jeremy Black
Whereas it used to be the case that up and coming generations tended to be more prosperous than their parents, now we're going to be in reverse
Historian Jeremy Black

The coalition government confirmed in July that it was planning to scrap the default UK retirement age from October 2011, which means employers would not be allowed to dismiss staff because they had reached the age of 65.

Ministers hope the change will encourage people to work for longer, easing the strain on public finances as more people continue to pay tax.

The coalition also plans to raise the age at which people are eligible to draw the state pension faster than the previous government planned to do. Labour had proposed to raise the state pension age to 66 in 2024, with the pension age eventually reaching 68 by 2046.

But, despite these changes, the Newsnight poll found half of those surveyed (50%) still said they expected to have retired by the age of 66, with one in five people (20%) saying that they had already retired.

Some 18% said they expected to have retired by the age of 75, while just 8% expected never to retire.

'Sense of entitlement'

Jeremy Black, professor of history at the University of Exeter, said younger people who were yet to retire were having to adjust to a dramatic change in fortunes.

Thomas Vaughan
I'll keep working until I can't work any more because [with] the state of finances in this country there's not going to be much of a pension going on
Thomas Vaughan
Assistant hotel manager

"The relationship between the generations has been transformed. Whereas it used to be the case that up and coming generations tended to be more prosperous then their parents, now we're going to be in reverse," he said.

He added that the powerful sense of entitlement among those who had grown up with a strong welfare state had now become unaffordable.

Thomas Vaughan, an assistant hotel manager in Dartmouth in Devon, said he was ready for a more difficult future.

"I'll keep working until I can't work any more because [with] the state of finances in this country there's not going to be much of a pension going on… unless I save myself," he said.

More than two thirds (69%) of those asked in Newsnight's poll said that either they or their partner was primarily responsible for ensuring they had enough money to see them through retirement. However, one in five (20%) believed the government was responsible.

Although more than three quarters thought younger people would get a worse deal, just 44% believed this would cause resentment or bad feeling between younger and older generations.

Watch Newsnight's special Retirement RIP programme on Tuesday 7 September 2010 at 2230 BST on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.



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