Pensioner poverty: Just another price we pay for the Union

In this business-friendly piece, free advertising for Standard Life, there’s little mention of the main reasons why there is pensioner poverty in the UK and it’s not because they have neglected to buy a pension package privately.

Here’s the first:

By regular contributor stewartb only a few days ago:

The House of Commons Library (HoCL) has just published (9 April 2021) a briefing paper entitled: ‘Pensions: international comparisons’. It is described as “A look at how UK pensions compare with those in other countries. The note compares the UK state pension with similar systems in Europe and goes on to look more broadly at the structural differences in the sources of pensioner income across economically advanced countries.”

From the paper’s conclusions:

  • the UK provides a lower level of pension than most other advanced economies relative to average earnings
  • the UK devotes a smaller percentage of its GDP to state pensions and pensioner benefits than most other advanced economies
  • income from occupational and personal pensions is a relatively important source of pensioner income in the UK, in contrast to many other countries where state provision (financed either through social insurance contributions or general taxation) is dominant.


Here’s another reason:

40% of pensioners don’t make claims they are entitled to. As life expectancy stalls among Scotland’s poor, you can trust the Scottish Tories to focus on the real priorities like Trident.

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12 thoughts on “Pensioner poverty: Just another price we pay for the Union

  1. If pensioners were increased it would save monies. The administration is almost as much as the pay out. The need for secondary benefits. If Scotland was Independent there is no doubt pensions could be increased. Scotland not paying for all of Westminster’s bad decision, poor policies and wasteful projects.

    Scotland has to pay repayments of loans not borrowed or spent in Scotland. Scotland has to pay for things it does not need Hinkley Point, HS2 and Trident etc. Too much on the military not based in Scotland and redundant weaponry. Illegal wars, financial fraud and tax evasion. All cost Scotland dear.

    There is absolutely no doubt Scotland could afford better pension payments and less administration. Scotland already pays (UK) pensions and benefits. From the £66Billion+ a year raised in Scotland. Scotland could raise more without Westminster colossal bad interference in the Scottish economy. Brexit the next catastrophe.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If there’s one certainty in life, it’s you’re going to age and eventually stop living at some time. Humanity has had a long time to come to terms with this fact of life, but we’re still not particularly good at making sure our later years are not blighted by precarity. Which is a problem neo-liberalism is ill-suited to resolving.

    In, Against and Beyond Precarity: Work in Insecure Times


  3. Ironically in 2014 we are told that a major group to vote No! were the seniors in society , most of whom would be relying almost exclusively on the State Pension .

    Gordon Brown ( a Proud North Briton ) was one among many who scared the bejesus out of this group with his lies !

    Today these pension comparisons from across Europe should be widely circulated among pensioners in particular when the next referendum is called . They more than most groups in society have been let down badly by the UK .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One useful measure for between country comparative purposes is the ‘net replacement rate’ of a pension.

    It is defined by the OECD as: “.. the individual net pension entitlement divided by net pre-retirement earnings, taking into account personal income taxes and social security contributions paid by workers and pensioners.

    “It measures how effectively a pension system provides a retirement income to replace earnings, the main source of income before retirement.”

    Source: OECD (2021), Net pension replacement rates (indicator). doi: 10.1787/4b03f028-en (Accessed on 24 April 2021)

    Graphical representations of the OECD’s comparative analyses can be found here:

    UK net replacement rate at 28.4% (based on 2018, the latest figures provided by the OECD) is the second lowest percentage of all the OECD countries. The EU 28 average is 63.5%; Denmark’s rate is 70.9%.


  5. Indeed John the UQ’s pension arrangements are pitiful, but the reason is the Tory and Labour vision of a nation in debt to the City of London either directly or via the State.
    When I departed the UQ in 2000 I had realised whatever the risks I could do no worse than start again in Ireland, and within a year wiped out UQ debt entirely, and it was not insubstantial. This was not due to some massive increase in remuneration but being free of the artificial draw-downs of the UQ, the right to survive.
    When I retired in 2015 my superannuated pension had already kicked in, enough to keep the wolf from the door in Romania where I live, when the artificially “delayed” state pension kicked in my financial circumstances changed to the point I could not only help my kids out but still accrue sufficient funds to buy a much needed new car this year without any debt.

    My point here is I’m lucky – I fully intend to get a Scottish Passport if existence permits, but there is no question the utter nonsense of pension in the UQ needs an enema with a 5 bar hose, hopefully now addressed by a Scotland State independent of that monstrosity the City if London

    Just my doi bani….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had hoped to be able to end my life in an independent Scotland, where old age was something to be enjoyed. Then we got Brexit. Which simply undoes the legal fabric of union, an re-defines Britain as England. Proving that even the most outwardly benign ideologies can proves to be politically intolerable, if it goes against the grain of human reason and understanding. Or the need for reciprocal recognition, tolerance of difference, and a commitment to inclusion.



  7. This comment is prompted by this from the BBC News website: ‘Scottish election 2021: Many manifestos, but for what?’ written by Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland Business/economy editor.


    I offer these extracts from a section entitled: “What difference can Holyrood make anyway? Mr Fraser argues: “The answer to that DEPENDS ON YOUR ATTITUDE to independence.” (my emphasis) So for Mr Fraser it would seem that ‘ATTITUDE’ trumps the actual legal powers given and withheld under the terms of the devolved settlement!

    And then he adds: “ THERE’S A LOT THAN CAN BE DONE AT HOLYROOD, and done differently. Reforming business rates, for instance.”

    So of all the key levers that are available to manage/transform an advanced western economy, this is the one factor he opts to highlight. Is that really the best economic lever available to the Scottish Parliament and Government that Mr Fraser can come up with?

    He goes on: “And A LOT OF ECONOMIC LEVERS AT WESTMINSTER SHAPE THE ECONOMY IN SCOTLAND . You emphasise what can be done, and what can’t, according to political TASTE”

    Let’s look at what this ‘A LOT’ actually amounts to: (i) to be in or out of the worlds biggest single market; (ii) trade policy; (iii) immigration policy; (iv) labour market policy; (v) key factors still in personal taxation; (vi) all corporate taxation; (vii) VAT rates; (viii) monetary policy; (ix) unlimited government borrowing; and (x) central bank quantitative easing – I could go on and on.

    Now let’s weigh all this against Mr Fraser’s top tip for changing the Scottish economy that is within the gift of the Scottish Government – business rates reform! Butter Mr Fraser it’s just a matter of TASTE how one assesses the balance of power and influence between Holyrood and Westminster!

    There is more: “Holyrood can allocate funds, but doesn’t determine the SCALE of them or when they’re withdrawn. That’s for Downing Street.”

    But hey – there’s still a lot than can be done at Holyrood isn’t there – even though Westminster actually controls scale and availability of public expenditure? There’s business rates reform – is that not enough to be going on with?

    And then we have Mr Fraser seeming almost to suggest that independence supporters shouldn’t worry our little heads about where government power resides in the UK because actually key levers are held elsewhere anyway:

    “But be careful of the idea that the levers of economic power, spending and tax can be pulled by one government or another, and things happen. It’s not that simple.” (Let’s leave the patronising tone to one side!)

    He tells us: “There’s so much more that cannot be controlled; the impact of global economic forces, business investment decisions, consumer sentiment, social change, and new, disruptive technologies. Government, whether Holyrood or Westminster, can only hope to steer a course through economic waters that can sometimes be very turbulent. Now is one of those times.”

    So Holyrood can steer reforms of business rates whilst Westminster steers using the levers of most fiscal, all monetary, all trade, all immigration etc. etc. policies? And it’s not really all that important because …!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How did ‘But for Mr Fraser’ become “Butter Mr Fraser’? Perhaps ‘23.15hrs on a Saturday night’ is the answer!


    2. Sounds like every single independent country in the world should join the UK then, because it’s just one big family in it! No country need worry their heads about anything knowing that everyone is in the same sinking boat as England, fabulous! Jeez.
      Mr. Fraser is telling us that it’s neither here nor there if Scotland is independent, or shackled to their far right wing neighbour, it’s all much of a muchness. Righty oh then, let’s just keep things as they are, because someone else will just make decisions for our country, if not England, is that it?
      Better the devil you know Scotland, stick with the gang, those nasty pesky gangs elsewhere won’t treat you good like we does, eh eh! Kick, kick kick!

      No thanks Mr. F, Scotland wants out of your BritNat gang, so go find someone else to bully!

      It’s a scary world out there, but thanks for the pep talk, Scotland is ready to take control, and more responsibility than you can ever imagine. The alternative of a Tory far right at the helm for the foreseeable, is far far more scary Mr Fraser.


  8. Oh and bus passes. Still awarded to people in Scotland at age of 60, it’s 65 or later if at all in some parts of England. Depends on which council.
    My BritNat neighbours have travelled extensively on their bus passes for years, yet they can’t stand the SNP. Hmmm…


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