Yesterday’s pensions announcement went down like a lead balloon with pensioners who were expecting immediate action to index link the state pension with average wage rises.
After objections by Chancellor Brown this is now not going to happen till at least 2012.
Millions of workers face working till they drop and not getting a pension at all with the pensionable age being raised in stages to 68 by 2044, six years earlier than recommended by Adair Turner’s Pension Commission.
Commenting on Labour’s plans, Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern said: ‘Unless the government intervenes quickly, the real value of the basic state pension will fall to a dismal £72 by 2012.’
The GMB general union said: ‘GMB members will be appalled by the delay in the reforms that will deny much needed assistance to many of today’s pensioners and to those retiring in the next few years.
‘Why should women have to wait until 2010 before the pensions system acknowledges that caring for others is valuable work?’
The GMB objects to ‘the demand on workers to work until 68’.
It adds that ‘there is no evidence that health inequalities will have narrowed by the deadline’.
Therefore ‘once again the lower earners will be forced to work until they drop while high earners will continue to retire early and live longer.’
Public sector union, UNISON Pensions Manager, Glyn Jenkins, said: ‘Why wait for six more years and see the relative value go down by another six percent?
‘The earnings link should never have been abolished and we want it restored now – not in six years’ time.’
On Blair’s plans for the personal savings accounts, Jenkins added: ‘A scheme where the contributions are too low and all the investment risk is on the member will not be able to deliver an adequate benefit and put the low paid at greater risk in the future if as proposed the scheme replaces the second state pension in the future.’
Community trade union which represents ASW steel workers who lost everything when their firm went bust, said it is still going to the European court as the pledged increase in the Financial Assistance Scheme is not enough.