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Holly's Blog: I'm marrying Brad Pitt! YAY!

4 Oct, 2019

Pensions uproar this week as 1950s-born women lose a discrimination case against the government. Seems we're more likely to end up with a Hollywood heartthrob than a decent State Pension.

Scenes of anger and actual despair yesterday as the High Court rejected the discrimination case brought by 1950s-born women after the government raised their State Pension age without enough warning. The High Court says this is a matter for Parliament.

About 4 million women have been affected by changes made in 1995 to bring women’s pension age in line with that of men. This age was to be 65. Then the coalition Government in 2011 accelerated the pace at which the women’s pension age rose to match men’s to 2018 – 2 years earlier than originally proposed.
So women born in the 1950s were frankly dumped in it. Bad luck, dear. Never mind. You’ve asked for equality all your life. You didn’t get it in terms of equal pay or acknowledgement of the value of care. But now you’re coming up to retirement – Happy Equality!!

Judging by many of the rather aggressive comments following the news articles online, my sympathies will be unpopular with many who are focusing on the issue of equality (which is of course right and proper) rather than timeframes and the ability for people to plan. The administration of this was shabby and unfair. The DWP were jolly in victory, pointing to the “extensive communications that the DWP made to publicise these changes over many years”. Really!?!?!? I have to say these extensive communications seem to have gone largely unnoticed. Let’s do a snap poll here. Readers who are not yet claiming a pension – are you confident that you know how old you will be when you are due your State Pension?

Communication is a two-way street – not a broadcast.

It requires some simple clear facts. Not pages of waffle. Maybe, if they’d sent everyone a one-pager with photos of 6 people on it, all of different ages, and just their new State Pension age on the photo, that would have been a better starting point? I’m in my mid-40s. Cough. Sort of. Plus one or two. The Government’s State Pension age calculator tells me I will be 67 when I am eligible for a State Pension... If you are in your late 30s, it’s 68 years old. Check yours in a moment of wild abandon this weekend. But here’s the rub. I think it is more likely that I will marry Brad Pitt than get any money from the Government when I am 67. And yesterday's ruling was a pretty cruel reminder that relying on the Government for anything in retirement is an uncertain game.

Action stations

If you are procrastinating about pensions, maybe take this blog as a kick up the bum to take a first step. We can all set up a private pension online – often with a direct debit of £50 a month, if you have that to spare. I was looking at Fidelity's website this morning – they have quite nice content which is tailored for people by age bracket under their Pensions/Retirement tab. They set you up from £40 a month. If you’re with Aviva for insurance or other stuff, you can set up a pension there and see all your holdings on one single dashboard. Or, if you are a digital on-the-go type and want it pretty simple, have a look at Nutmeg.

Lots of people get stuck when it comes to working out which investment option to pick to actually put inside the pension account – there are typically about 5 “risk grades” we’re presented with. There are lots of free risk profilers out there which will give you a framework for decision-making. If you bank with Santander, you can go through their Digital Advice process for £20. (No pension yet but they’ll give you a sense of what’s what when it comes to investment choices and risk). HSBC have something similar. Moneyfarm is a robo adviser with a pension option – they have a detailed but simple questionnaire which will give you a good steer on getting started. Or look at our pension pages for details. The point is – I think – that we need to be more and more self-sufficient and not rely on those warm and cuddly people in Westminster to look after us in retirement. 67? Yeah right.

Have a great weekend