A poll commission by YouGov has found that a majority of Conservative supporters think it is unfair to make the British work for longer for their state pension compared with those on the continent. The company questioned 1,700 adults and found that a majority felt “uncomfortable” about plans to increase the state retirement age. The YouGov poll was funded by a collection of Trade Unions including Unite, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and the National Union of Teachers (NUT). Thousands of public sector workers are expected to come out on strike this week against government plans to reform public sector pensions which will see workers having to work for longer and increase their level of contribution.
Although it is often perceived as a Union and Labour centric issue, the evidence from the poll is that many Conservative voters are also uneasy about the changes to the pension system. Over a third believe that keeping the older generation working longer will mean fewer jobs for younger people and at the same time reduce the retirement span for older workers. Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS union argues that “…in an economy that can afford tax breaks for the very rich, it ought to be a national scandal that the rest of us are being forced to work so much longer. Mr Serwotka alludes to changes in the budget which will see a reduction in the top rate of income tax of 5%. Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT said it was not in the interest of the younger generation that a majority of people should be working until they are 68.
Although the reforms will make public sectors workers have to pay more for their pensions, they are still well ahead in term of benefits compared with the average private pension. Final Salary schemes are for most a relic of the past and DC pensions are on average much less generous on in the private sector. The Unions counter this point arguing two wrongs don’t make a right and just because private sector pensions offer poor value that is no reason to decimate public sector pensions.