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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2005, 09:39 GMT
West: Pensions
Paul Barltrop
Paul Barltrop
The Politics Show West

Sharon Adams
Sharon Adams as she is today ...

Around 10m people are not saving enough to see them through old age. That is almost half the current British workforce.

For months the government has been deflecting questions on what to do about the so-called "pensions crisis".

A committee led by Adair Turner had been set up by the government to investigate.

But even before its recommendations are officially announced, the political wrangling has begun - with clear hints that they will not be implemented by Ministers.

That will come as little comfort to Sharon Adams. She lives in Yatton near Bristol.

She works part-time in a care home, and cannot afford to put anything aside for her old age.

So we gave her a glimpse of what life could be like when she retires.

Sharon earns just over 6000 a year. Her husband pays into a pension for both of them.

Depending on the market at the time they retire, the length of time they pay into the scheme and assuming Sharon benefits from the pension in full the couple could receive around 1300 a month in their retirement.

Martin Sullivan, a Senior lecturer at the University of the West of England, says Sharon and her family should not be relying on a pension plan alone.

Sharon Adams
Sharon Adams ... 40 years on

They should have other savings too. Sharon says that is not an option.

"The problem is I work part time to make up an income so to have excess to save is unlikely. I have to work part-time just to pay bills at the moment", she says.

Martin Sullivan says there are several options open to the government:

  • Force people to save more
  • Raise the state pension
  • Raise the retirement age

Pensions activist Rita Booth, from Nailsea near Bristol, sympathises with Sharon.

She says people have to make very difficult decisions about where they spend their money: "You cannot do everything.

"You cannot pay it out and save it for your future unless you earn an unrealistic amount which ordinary people do not get. It is a dilemma."

Sharon says she has been left feeling nervous about her future.

She is happy that her husband is paying enough into a pension but says "if anything happens to one of us and we are not able to continue with our contributions we will really struggle".

Hear how the politicians will tackle the pensions crisis on the Politics Show.

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