A snap general election and everything is up in the air again. It may mean more changes to our pension system. Then again, it may not. All bets are off. Our job is just to keep watching and react to events completely outside our control. And that is true not just for those of us in the pensions industry but for all of us living in the group of countries we call the United Kingdom.
Many say the pensions triple-lock has had its day. Maybe it has. Who knows? Indeed, who really cares? If it does not go this time, it may go the time after that or at any other time in the name of intergenerational fairness or some other trendy cause or slogan.
The sad reality is that it will all depend on who will need certain people to vote for them rather than who needs the support of a secure pension as they age.
The same applies to the “granting” of tax relief on pension contributions. I cannot remember a Budget statement that was not preceded by acres of newsprint warning of the imminent loss of pension tax relief in the name of fairness and equality or some such notion or other. Perhaps this time there will be radical changes to that. Or perhaps not. Again, who knows or can really be bothered to care anymore? It will happen some time. Now is a good a time as any.
Our pension system has long lost any sense of purpose as far as those who rely on it are concerned. That we today regard as normal the fact highly skilled professionals are driven into retirement by crazy pension rules, and that a whole generation of women have been left utterly disillusioned by poorly communicated changes to state pension age says all we need to know about the state of the system.
The constant tinkering with rules and regulations in the name of who knows or cares what has already turned people against it. More tinkering, more changes, more innovations? Sure. Why not? Bring them on. No one cares any more.
The system no longer inspires or motivates ordinary people. It is just a sideshow for the average person and a Gordian Knot of complexity for those who toil in the industry to marvel at as they sit their professional exams in the study and memorising of complete pointlessness.
Saving for the future is something we should all do if we can. Spending less than we earn is clearly beneficial for all. Very few of us will want or be able to work all our adult days. Pensions were a good idea once: they helped us achieve all these good things.
And they were more powerful by far when actively encouraged by our employers and those in government. But those days are over now. We are on our own.
Steve Bee is director at Jargonfree Benefits