Who's been hit

Unsurprisingly, Britain’s pensioners are now as likely as many of those living in Europe to be at risk of poverty. Britain has one of the highest risk of pensioner poverty in Western Europe. Only pensioners in Romania, Latvia, Cyprus and Estonia are more likely to fall into poverty according to research by Eurostat last year.1

Meanwhile, pensions for workers in the public sector in the UK have not been harmed by such policy changes. The result is that the divide between private and public sector pensions is growing, while public sector pensions themselves are unfunded.

  • The UK’s public sector pension liabilities are estimated to be £1.071 trillion2;
  • 63 per cent of private sector jobs have no pension provision compared with only 16 per cent of jobs in the public sector. The divide between public and private sector pension provision has grown by almost 50 per cent since 1997, when 54 per cent of private sector workers had no pension provision compared with 21 per cent in the public sector 3; and
  • ‘Public sector pensions are projected to grow more quickly over the next twenty years than any other area of state spending for which long-term projections are available’ 4.

1 Eurostat, At-risk-of-poverty rate for pensioners, July 2009
2 Institute of Economic Affairs, January 2008
3 ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Pensions Analysis 2008
4 Pensions Policy Institute, An Assessment of the Government’s reforms to public sector pensions, October 2008