Tuesday

The Turner Commission report

For reference, here is a link the the Turner Commission final report on pensions. Here is its full web address: http://www.pensionscommission.org.uk/publications/2005/annrep/annrep-index.asp
As has been widely reported, it was killed before birth by Gordon Brown. Gordon Brown, the great means-tester, has been influenced, I would guess, by Treasury officials. They, like generations of their forebears since 1945, have understood very well what things will cost this year and next year. They have thought they understood long term costs, too. But they haven’t.
What they have consistently failed to recognise is that if you means-test people they will, over time, adjust their behaviour so as not to waste their own efforts and their own money. So if you means-test pensions, then, over time, millions of people will save less or not at all and you will, over time, have to pay more people, more means-tested benefits. Then the cost will be so huge that you will have to cut the means-tested benefits. And people will be poorer.
In addition – and this is far beyond the ken of the Treasury – people will also have had their sense of self-sufficiency profoundly undermined and they might, in the process, be further alienated from the society in which they live. They would have every justification in loathing politicians (and senior civil servants) who get it wrong, leading them down the garden path.
It is a dangerous to have social policy framed by the Treasury. That is the lesson of the past 60 years.
The Turner Commission, while I doubt I agree with it all, is far more sensible than Gordon Brown. The report also has useful figures.

  1. The coming hike in National Insurance that is deliberately omitted from Labour’s election manifesto
  2. The fall and fall of the state pension
  3. Why don’t people save?
  4. A Picker Institute report on the NHS
  5. Labour on the way out
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