Pensions divide growing, warns ACA

12 December 2003
A pensions divide is growing in the UK, between public sector workers with generous and protected pension provisions and private sector staff who fail to save enough and are beset by uncertainty.

The Association of Consulting Actuaries has warned that within a generation, only public sector employees will enjoy the benefits of final salary pension schemes.

A survey of 459 firms with fewer than 250 staff found that less than one third had final salary schemes - and of these, only a third are open to new staff.

The range of products springing up in the place of final salary occupational pensions, such as stakeholder pensions, are likely to result in less generous provision for old age - given the weak requirements for employers to contribute and their dependence on the performance of the stock market.

Gordon Pollock, chairman of the Association of Consulting Actuaries, warned “My concern is that contributions into these schemes are worryingly low. The danger of a divided nation with public sector workers and a diminishing number of private sector workers enjoying good pensions, set against millions of people with poor pensions, is fast becoming a reality within a generation.”

“'I don't think the Government has yet grasped the enormity of the political issue or the imaginative responses needed to address what is a genuine pensions crisis”, he told the Daily Mail newspaper.