In light of the recent announcement from the Government that the increase in state pension age is to be accelerated, we should now be in no doubt it is not something any of us can rely upon as part of our lifetime financial planning.
Any timetables issued from here with regards to its amount or the age at which we can expect to receive it should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt.
I would also not be surprised to see it become subject to a means test eventually. Indeed, there is much talk of that already. It seems moving the state pension goalposts is the magic money tree in our post-Brexit world.
Many put the changes we have seen so far down to a response to the so-called baby-boomers born in the 1950s reaching their 60s. But while it is true there was a post-war baby-boom that occurred through the 1950s and early 1960s, it was in the US not the UK.
Office for National Statistics data shows a short post-war spike in births for the UK population but that was over by the end of the 1940s. There was nothing unusual through the 1950s.
Contrary to the US and others, our real baby-boom did not happen until the 1960s. What does this mean? Our boomers are set to reach their 60s during the 2020s, which is when we should fear even more shooting-from-the-hip changes to our state pension system.
Since the early 1960s around half the employees in the UK have been in a company pension scheme and half have not. That ratio has not changed at all as our working population has grown from 18 million people back then to over 30 million today.
In short, we have always had far too many people completely reliant on the state pension for their retirement income.
With so many depending on the state for their wellbeing in old age, we really do need to take a careful, measured and open approach when making changes – something our Government is not particularly good at. Indeed, it is for that reason the Waspi movement came into being in the first place.
But the Government needs to do more than simply get better at informing people of life-changing decisions they feel required to impose on millions of older citizens. With the state pension in constant flux, something has to be done to encourage sensible levels of pension saving in the UK.
What has happened so far with auto-enrolment and what will happen as it reaches its mature state in the early 2020s simply is not good enough.
We need a clear roadmap for pensions and long-term savings that will result in less reliance on the state pension and we need it soon. Before the real baby-boom hits.
Steve Bee is director at Jargonfree Benefits