Another little piece of nastiness from our somewhat beleaguered government. Today they are trying to get Parliament to agree to press ahead with raising the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 by 2018. Then the age for everyone will rise to 66 by 2020. Now the first part of this proposal is manifestly unfair to something around 300,000 women who will now face working up to two years longer before they can get their full state pension. However the greatest objection should be to this notion that the state pension age needs to rise to 66 by 2018 and then almost certainly to 67 by sometime in the 2020s.
The UK is of course not alone in this and the previous government, New Labour, had also signed up to raising the state pension age. However I have yet to find any convincing evidence that this measure is either necessary or beneficial. There are all kinds of anomalies in the proposal. The fact is that huge numbers of people die well before the state retirement age at the moment and that very large numbers of people only live for a very short period after reaching the age of 65. This is particularly true for men and even more true for manual workers. That the majority in this group are already pretty poor is quite convenient for our nasty Coalition as it was for New Labour. After all what can the poor do - vote Labour? Raising the retirement age will only make this inequality even worse.
The main, indeed the only justification for these proposals is that the majority of us are living longer and that the country can no longer afford to pay out such largesse. It is all a bit rich really. Just what then is the point of all these wonderful technological innovations and these great scientific advances if all it means is that most of us will have to work longer for a lesser pension? It is not something that will much affect the rich. They have never had to rely on the state pension for a dignified retirement. It is as usual an example of the rich and the better off making it crystal clear that they are manifestly not in it with the rest of us.
I am particularly intrigued by one aspect of the assumed benefits from these changes. Apparently at some time in the near future the government will be raising significantly more in tax from all these people who will have to keep on working a few years longer. Now I am no expert in either economics or statistics, but if thousands of people remain in their current jobs for another year or two, surely this means that an equivalent number of people will remain unemployed for the same time. When someone retires they are nearly always replaced by someone else. After all the various jobs have to continue to be done. So I fail to see the gain to the Treasury. Someone will be employed and paying taxes and national insurance. Whether it’s a 67 year old or a 47 year old or a 27 year cannot make much of a difference to the Treasury. So where is the benefit? Even worse if this does lead to an increase in unemployment there will be an inevitable increase in government spending. So there will be even less of a benefit. Now one can see that our nasty Coalitions plans to restrict benefits will help a little here. But surely not by that much.
This, like most of the proposals from our nasty Coalition seems to be more ideology driven than anything else. Punish the already weak and poor. Protect the rich and better off. We can afford nuclear weapons, new aircraft carriers and and ever more expensive military, which it seems is primarily used to kill innocent Muslims. Yet we cannot, absolutely cannot afford to provide a decent retirement pension for all.