British Social Attitudes survey

Polls and surveys can give a guide to the general leanings of the group of people being represented. The survey behind this report was carried out between July and November last year. Attitudes to some of the topics covered might have changed since then.

Nevertheless, that pensions are no longer the top priority for extra welfare spending surprised me for two reasons: That pensions ever were the top priority; and that they were the top priority for 30 years over and above welfare spending on benefits for the disabled.

Retirement is a choice the majority of us have. Being disabled, surely, is not. Retirement is something one can plan for over a known number years. Again, not necessarily the case for those with a disability. Yes, we can pay for insurance and private healthcare that might mitigate against the effects of disability but not against a disability itself.

Although I accept that this survey might have asked questions specifically relating to welfare payments, we can plan not to have to depend on welfare in our retirement. The irony being, and a point alluded to in the report, that generally those with a greater ability to prepare have a lesser need for that welfare.

Contributing to building up a pension fund, whether deemed a “legal loophole” or a legitimate vehicle for tax and retirement planning, leads to lesser reliance on welfare.

According to another recent survey (MetLife’s “Real Pension Freedom: The Delivery Scorecard”), only 16% of over 55s found guidance from Pension Wise, TPAS and the Money Advice Service useful. Could this also be another indicator that pensions are on a down turn in the public eye?

I sense a busy time ahead for our new Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, and hope that he plans for the future and helps us all to do the same.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.