It is somewhat ironic that a Google search for pension parity in the UK turns up an exchange of letters in the Times Online. Rosemary Bennett had written an article entitled We’ll have to work until we’re 70, just as it was in Lloyd George’s day. She was commenting on the 100th anniversary of the creation of the state pension on August 1, 1908. Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the architect of radical reforms in which the retirement age will rise to 68 by 2046, suggested that it will be at 70 by the end of the century. The final paragraph of the article stood in sharp contrast to this.
Anyone working for central or local government, the NHS, the police, the fire service and the associated regulators is still entitled to a generous final salary pension and most can retire at 60. Taxpayers are paying £21billion a year to fund these pensions.
A few days later, Bernard Keeffe then commented that Lloyd George’s pension would be a luxury to the modern OAP if you compare it to the general level of salaries. Stephen O’Loughlin responded that Compared to those in the 1900s, our pensions seem rather handsome. He cited the various items such as the single person pension credit, the housing and council tax benefit and the winter fuel allowance and is additionally entitled to free bus travel, prescriptions etc.
.. and why is this exchange on pension parity in the UK so ironic? Well that happens to be the title of a new website which has just gone online. The International Consortium Of British Pensioners (ICBP) is taking the case for pension parity to the European Court of Human Rights. It is supported internationally by a number of British State Age Pensioner Groups.
The pensioners it represents have two strikes against them. Firstly they do not benefit from all those extra credits that Stephen O’Loughlin mentioned. Secondly and much more importantly, they have non-indexed pensions which are frozen at the levels set at retirement. If these pensioners had emigrated to Europe or to the USA, they would be receiving fully indexed pensions just as if they were resident in the UK. However the pensioners represented by this website chose to emigrate to countries in the Commonwealth. There is no logic nor equity in what is happening.
These pensioners seem to be the forgotten people in the discussion on pension parity. Even recent petitions to 10 Downing Street go unanswered. A petition from Canada drew 1,518 signatures but no response. A petition from New Zealand drew 1,631 signatures but no response.
Apparently the government has no time to redress this profound inequity against basic human rights. The Pension Parity website details how you can help British Pensioners who have had their pensions frozen at rates ruling 20 years ago or more and are now in their 80’s or even 90’s, and living on a pittance. The only recourse seems to be to go outside the UK to bring international pressure. It’s certainly not one of the UK’s finest hours.