Thursday, 12 February 2004

Show me the money

Clive Summerfield @ Thursday, February 12, 2004
So at last the Department for Work and Pensions reveals its plans to address the nation's pensions crisis. An insurance fund with mandatory contributions. Wow, I feel a whole lot more secure about the future now. Unfortunately for many who've already seen their pension head down the pan, it won't do anything for them. Nor will it help existing pensioners who are struggling by now.

In fact, apart from some unquantifiable feel-good element, it is hard to know just what level of additional security it will bring.

The real problem is that, as a nation, we don't save enough, be it in pension contributions or personal savings. And it is hardly surprising when the incentives to save become fewer and fewer. PEPs and TESSAs were replaced by the more confusing and miserly ISAs, and don't get me started on the £5billion per annum raid on pension plan dividend payments.

If the government is serious about addressing the issue of financial provision in old age, then they need to put in place significant incentives to save for tomorrow rather than live for today and hope. And for starters, that means scrapping any thoughts of apply capital gains tax to first homes. If they think the pensions crisis is bad now, just wait 'til they've handed out a beating to people who are relying on downsizing their property in old age to raise an income.

And another benefit of savings incentives is that they might just discourage people from running up even greater personal debt.

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