Judging by the response to the publication of the Turner report, it is difficult to see a consensus emerging on how best to deal with pensions over the next 20 to 30 years.One aspect of the debate relates to average retirement ages and how they should form part of long-term pension reform. This issue is complex, as we have seen in the attempts to change the pension age of public-sector workers. Significant inequalities in life expectancy and health across society will restrict the scope for blanket increases in the state pension age in the short term. In a strangely timed decision, the Liberal Dem- ocrats unveiled their pension blueprint in advance of the Turner report. Their plans include major changes to state pensions and raising the state pension age to 67, although this would only happen in 25 years. There is considerable ignorance among the public on pensions generally but lack of knowledge on the effects of different retirement ages is marked. The Office of National Statistics has just published the first edition of Pension Trends, which brings together key statistics from Government departments and other organisations to illustrate the social and economic trends that shape changes in UK pensions. People’s expectations of when they might retire may not match their actual date of retirement but these expectations may affect the decisions they make on saving for their retirement. Pension practitioners will know that people often delay pension planning until later in life. The number of people who say they are saving rises when they reach their mid-40s. Pension Trends indicates a number of reasons for this delay, including:
- An unwillingness to deal with complex matters surrounding pensions.
- A reluctance to deal with the uncomfortable notions of retirement and old age.
- A perception that retirement is in the future, so planning for it is less pressing than other immediate commitments.
- A lack of clarity about what the future may bring and about retirement and retirement income.