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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Pensions crisis: Your experiences
Workers going home walking across London Bridge
A report published indicates 12 million working people in Britain are not saving enough for their retirement.

The Pensions Commission says there is a 57 billion gap between what people will need in retirement, and what they're putting aside.

ASK THE MINISTER
You put your questions to Pensions Minister Malcolm Wicks in an interactive forum

The research shows that if taxes aren't put up or savings increased, the average retirement age will have to rise to nearly 70 to maintain pensioner living standards.

Are you worried about the pensions crisis? Do you have a story that you would like to share? Are you facing your own pension crisis? Where did it all go wrong? What should the Commission recommend?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

I simply cannot afford to pay for a pension that I may not live to enjoy
Sabina, Holborn
I opted out of my company pension scheme. I simply cannot afford to pay for a pension that I may not live to enjoy. Who knows how long we will live, so I don't see the point. As for the government, surely we should get a decent pension for the all the high taxes and NI that we pay. Where is it all going?
Sabina, Holborn

Where's the incentive to save? I work and pay various taxes on my salary. I put the money in a bank to earn interest and I get taxed on that as well! Now the annual ISA contribution is being lowered! If the Government wants to encourage us to save, they should provide a suitable incentive.
Andy, Warrington

By the time I retire, I would have paid my mortgage off and raised my children to the point of independence. Surely I will not need as much money as I do now. Why can't we accept that we will not have as much money when we retire and therefore get out of this fairy tale notion that we are going to travel the world at age 60! Live comfortably, but not luxuriously.
Rayhanah Russell, Leicester

I've been out of university for just over two years and won't pay off my 20K debt until I'm 32. How exactly can I save for a pension if I thought there was any point? By the way - I was a student when there were no tuition fees and I had a grant every year. The students that followed me won't pay off their debts until they are 40 - how do they save for a pension?
Louise Brennan, London

Everyone is talking about company pension schemes. What about the millions with no company pension schemes? Many of these people have to navigate the pension maze themselves and hope they back the right funds. If they could act as a single block would they receive more attention?
Paul Kelly, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

Maybe the government should encourage us to smoke, overeat and binge drink then we'd all die before we would need a pension.
Paul, Lowestoft

Because people are not paying into Pension Funds does not mean they are not saving for their retirement. All it means is that they no not trust the pensions companies with their money. Based on their performance over the last 10 years this is no surprise.
Tim, Aberdeen

The 'live for today, ignore tomorrow' culture in this country
John, Norwich
The sad thing is that when Gordon Brown wiped out 4 billion of tax credits on dividend payments in the 1997 budget, the media and tabloids in particular were more concerned with rise in the price of fags, booze and petrol. I guess the media would argue that their coverage only reflected the 'live for today, ignore tomorrow' culture in this country.
John, Norwich

I don't understand why all these people are moaning about people in the public sector having a good pension. This is the one compensation for having lower pay and doing a job that benefits society. Unlike all you corporate mercenaries. You pay you money you take your choice - go and get a public sector job if your worried about retirement. And put some well needed skills back to your country.
Paul, Berkshire

With the cost of living so high and the prospect of never being able to get on the property ladder, how are people supposed to save for the future when they can hardly afford to live now, even with a good level of income.
Tim Richmond, London, England

I found out at 59 (Retirement age 60) that I had lost 90% of my pension. I fear I will be excluded from the Financial Assistance scheme as my previous employer entered into a compromise settlement with the trustee to avoid insolvency . Although it became insolvent 15 months later, We are currently excluded from FAS which does not have enough money anyway. So despite Blair, Brown and others claiming to care the future is bleak and the report, whilst recognising the problem, is not helping me and many like me. Cynically MPs and the increasing number of civil servants are OK so do we really matter? Our voting power is less than the civil service population
Terry Monk, Camberley Surrey

My money is going into property and antiques
Simon, London, England
There is no way I would trust my future to a pension scheme. Given the way endowments have failed, I have no faith in the city at individual or corporate level to provide for me in my old age. My money is going into property and antiques. They are tangible, enjoyable and do not attract expensive service charges. I can also sell/change them when I wish without punitive penalties being applied.
Simon, London, England

I don't understand why so many people blame their own personal pension shortfall issues on the government or any other advisory body other than themselves. The responsibility for retirement planning and pension values falls entirely at our own doorstep. I accept that for a large number of people who accepted those responsibilities only for the company pension scheme to dissolve there can be little or no levelling of criticism, however all but the least sophisticated adults are aware that saving plans should be spread against a number of differing investment vehicles. I believe the basic cost of living, the cost of purchasing a home and the general greed based consumer mentality of the west is fuelling most peoples reluctance to save for the older age.
Michael Hartley, Wakefield

Final salary schemes for the public sector must be stopped immediately. MPs, civil servants and the like should be forced into the lottery of money purchase schemes like the rest of us. In the near future our children will be hit by taxes to pay for the "gold standard" pensions that today's MPs have shamefully voted themselves.
Joe, Manchester, UK

Directors of these companies receive golden handshakes for doing a bad job
Wendy Bell, Rochester, Kent
It is all very well the government saying that we should save for our retirement. Lots of us do but where is the incentive when you do take out a pension plan and then they go bankrupt through corruption or bad handling. Then to top it all the Directors of these companies receive golden handshakes for doing a bad job.
Wendy Bell, Rochester, Kent

I sincerely hope that by the time I reach 50, this ridiculous ageism in the workplace will have been dealt with, so that I can carry on working if I need to. In the IT field, I'm worried enough about hitting 35!
Alastair, Suffolk, UK

Pensions are something of a rip-off, but you can save tax-free and your employer will normally contribute. You have to take responsibility for yourself and cut costs elsewhere so that you can save for retirement. It's worth making other investments as well. I really do not want to be supporting people who have not had the foresight to be saving for retirement - I do it - so why should I pay for you?
Julie, London

This government seems to think we have limitless amounts of money stashed away
Paul, Colchester

I'm quite angry at this latest report... This government seems to think we have limitless amounts of money stashed away and it's simply a matter of will to provide for ourselves in old age. With house prices at an all time high (and rising), the cost of housing is extremely high and takes quite a hit out of my monthly salary. Moreover, Council Taxes are on the rise (again), together with fuel taxes and several other ingenious ways this administration has of parting me from my hard earned. And then they turn round and tell me I haven't provided enough for my retirement!
Paul, Colchester

How can we save when we are getting taxed left, right and centre? My council tax is more than 10% of my gross salary and getting higher each year. I'm fed up of the blame being put on people living longer etc. The pension schemes were fine a few years ago and now look what has happened.
Neil Small, Scotland

Why did Gordon Brown remove some of the tax advantages in his budget a few years ago?
Mike Ward, London
If the Government are truly concerned and committed to encourage us to save more for a pension why did Gordon Brown remove some of the tax advantages in his budget a few years ago? The most effective form of encouragement is to make it economically attractive to save for a pension.
Mike Ward, London

I find it utterly beyond comprehension that, having paid national insurance and income tax for many years, I may have to save to fund my retirement. I believe that if we are expected to contribute to society, then we are entitled to a comfortable existence in our old age. The current situation once again confirms to me the complete inequality that exists in our corporate and big-buck dominated country.
Philip Walmsley, Bradford, England

I think everyone is missing the plot here. It is all part of a cunning plan on behalf of Gordon and Tony to raise more taxes. Increased savings mean larger pension schemes. Since Gordon removed their tax relief larger pension schemes mean larger tax revenues.... Another highly cunning stealth tax!
Keith Baker, Reading, UK

Pension companies have taken the money, collapsed and left us to rot
Theresa Dowling, London
Twenty years ago the government encouraged the public to save in a private pension scheme, which we all dutifully did even at the age of 24, thinking that it would therefore provide for us in our dotage. Since then pension companies have taken the money, collapsed and left us to rot. After contributing approx 200 pcm for 20 years my projected pension is a paltry 900 per year! Coupled with the mis-selling of endowment policies which has also cost me a fortune, I feel entitled to be a burden to the state having followed the Government's meticulous advice of how to become destitute. Let's hope there's safety in numbers.
Theresa Dowling, London

Most poor people's budgets are so stretched with day-to-day bills, how can they save? As usual it's the people at the top of the tree giving this advice!
Len Williams, Brighton

I believe that in 20 years' time it will be commonplace for pensioners to work for one day a week to supplement their pensions. Turn up, do your day's work and get your pay in cash without any taxes. Government could help here by making it simple to employ people on this basis.
Steve, St Albans

Totally unrealistic in today's labour market
Pete, Birmingham, UK
It's totally unrealistic in today's labour market for the Government to expect individuals to contribute and manage the lion's share of their retirement funds. Redundancies, company liquidations and the rapid shift in labour market employment opportunities mean that very few of us can 'plan' a retirement fund. I tried but my company went broke, the pension fund was badly depleted, next employer offered an inferior pension plan, then my mortgage went haywire (endowment) so more input needed there. I'm now faced with a few years working life (unless I'm made redundant) and despite my efforts I've very little pension savings. What did I do wrong?
Pete, Birmingham, UK

Set aside more? I can barely get by with my present income. If this Government will reduce my tax burden, then perhaps I will be able to look forward to a prosperous old age.
John Atkins, Bridgwater, England

Older people are more active and healthy these days than ever before. When pensions were first introduced, average life expectancy was some ten years lower than it is today. Many elderly people work on a voluntary basis in charitable organisations well into their seventies or even eighties. Raising the retirement age to 70 might sound unpalatable, but it seems like the only satisfactory solution.
Alex, UK

Talking about pensions is surely missing the point that it is the economically active supporting the economically inactive. That includes most single parents, the under 16s, those studying, prisoners, the willing and unwilling unemployed. And pensioners. It's just that generally speaking, the latter have worked and saved for their support, most of the former haven't!
Simon Mallett, Maidstone

We now have a situation where people are discouraged and penalised if they save for their old age.
Mike Hall, Kingham, UK
This government has stolen money from one of the best pension schemes in the world causing companies to close down their schemes. We now have a situation thanks solely to the labour government where people are discouraged and penalised if they save for their old age. Those people who never ever saved are the beneficiaries through means tested benefits which are denied to those of us who saved all our lives.
Mike Hall, Kingham, UK

I contributed to a final salary scheme for 26 years and have lost everything because the company is in liquidation and the pension scheme is being wound up. There are approximately 60,000 people like me in the UK
Hugh Anderson, N. Ireland

I just find the whole thing bewildering. You try to save and get taxed on it. You put into a pension scheme then the firm goes bust and you lose everything. The government change the rules on pensions every few years just to confuse everyone. To be honest I don't know what to think or do any more. The future looks very bleak.
Craig, Preston, UK

It would suit everybody best if I just died at my desk
CP, Manchester, UK
I have come to the conclusion that there will be no state pension for me when I retire and it would suit everybody best if I just died at my desk.
CP, Manchester, UK

If pensioners without sufficient private pensions are to be virtually abandoned by the state, at least take them out of the taxation and payments loop: free transport, electricity, phone, rates and water rates, TV licence, road fund licence etc might allow them to survive with some dignity. Otherwise, cut the hypocrisy and lay on voluntary euthanasia for the unwanted despairing and desperate poor.
R G Claughton, Hastings UK

Having lived for a while in Singapore, I think the government should take a leaf out of the Singaporean system of pensions. It works extremely well and everyone receives a very adequate pension when they retire.
Val Diprose, Haywards Heath, W. Sussex

People you've missed the point completely. This is a demographic problem due to the post war baby boomers, subsequent drop in birth rate and longer life expectancy. State pensions were easier to provide when few people lived into old age and there was a large working population. Now the post war people are retiring early and living longer and their is a smaller working population to support them. It's not an issue of government policy it's pure demographics.
Ruth K, Warrington, UK

Our pension crisis has been building for 20 - 25 years. The answer now is not to do one of a selection of options, but a little of all. We must work a little longer, pay a little more tax and be encouraged to save more. The Government must support pensioners with a "living pension" until a correct balance is achieved.
Peter Smither, Westgate, UK

If you are 16-40 and at work, you probably have a life of poverty to look forward to as you grow older.
John Dickson, Grangemouth, Scotland
If you are 16-40 and at work, you probably have a life of poverty to look forward to as you grow older. An Audit Commission report that will issue shortly, will highlight the massive underfunding of personal pensions with the average being a nearly 4,500 per annum shortfall. Either these people will have to remedy the shortfall or a massive increase in taxation will be required to fill the gap and stop these people dying from starvation or cold.
John Dickson, Grangemouth, Scotland

My wife retired not long ago aged 60. She had paid into private pension schemes for a number of years. Now she looses nearly half of the payouts to the tax man. What's the point?
Pete, Kirkcaldy Scotland.

I worked in the insurance industry for 8 years in the nineties. Although the need for a pension was stressed you would be surprised by the amount of people who lived for the present because 'the state would take care of them' in old age.
David,

I had to retire from British Airways last year because I reached 55 and was considered too old for the job of air cabin crew. Since then I have not been able to find a suitable salaried job. I am endeavouring to live on a BA pension of 450 per month plus a small amount of savings. I wanted to continue with my job but was not allowed.
Pamela Skinner, Barwick, England

Self-sufficiency is the way forward
Louise, Hartlepool
I firmly believe there will be no state pension for all by the time I reach 65, the country cannot afford it with an aging population. I am 34 and I have been paying into employer pension schemes since I started working at 22. I am paying off my mortgage as fast as I can. I expect to pay off my mortgage before my 40th birthday, then I shall start saving for my early retirement. I am doing this on my own with no government hand-outs. Self-sufficiency is the way forward.
Louise, Hartlepool

In this country we spend 51 billion each year on eating out and alcohol, and only 34 billion on saving for our retirements. Are we like Homer Simpson, blaming the restaurants for making the food and drink too good to resist?
Mike Richmond, Guildford, England

I have two parents who have just retired and they are finding it a struggle. In my opinion those who have worked should be getting help, not being told they can't have a pension as they have too much savings.
David, Berlin, Germany, ex UK

So much for having to work 'til 70
Andy, Harrogate, England
Worked 21 years for a bank and a company owned by 5 major banks. Made redundant at 48 on a salary package of circa 65K. 2 years searching for work. Ended up as call centre fodder at 13K. Worked my way up again to 21K but on a money purchase pension as the final salary pension was closed to new entrants. Have paid AVCs when I could afford them. Now find my pension will be worth circa 10Kpa after tax and if I work the 3 more years 'til my company's mandatory 60 retirement age it'll be worth 10.6Kpa. Can't see the point of working 3 years for 600pa so I'm retiring. So much for having to work 'til 70. My employer won't let me and I couldn't stick all the youngsters' claptrap and bureaucracy just for 600.
Andy, Harrogate, England

They want us to save - how? This government have done nothing but raise taxes, raise duty on fuel (for people like me to get to work in the first place to earn the money), tax us to the hilt on virtually everything. I work long hours, it's not possible to move as my wife also works, we have children settled in high schools and I look after my elderly father, again saving thousands on the council by not taking a nursing home place up. They have a blooming cheek to expect us to work till we are 70! I bet Gordon or Tony won't have to.
PJB, Manchester, UK

How can the government ask us to save more then take it away by taxing pension funds? Smacks of hypocrisy.
Pete, Belfast





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