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Business View: CBI's pension plan is to work us into early grave.

Byline: John Duckers

The CBI is normally a solid and serious organisation which deserves respect...but once in a while it comes up with a truly barmy idea.

It now proposes the retirement age be increased to 70 in exchange for a bigger state pension.

It is a frankly brutal suggestion - what they are really saying is that we need to see far more people dead so we can afford a decent pension for the remainder.

And this from an organisation who, following a lead from a Government which decided to de-stabilise the whole system by effectively taxing pension funds, has watched wringing its hands from the sidelines as its members abandoned their commitment to looking after long-serving employees in their old age. An organisation where the chief executives and chairmen of the country's top firms have made sure their pensions funds are bulging - the I'm Alright Jack syndrome from which lofty position they seek to preach to the rest of us.

It has been a shameful episode in the annals of British industry.

The crocodile tears are all over the CBI's latest position paper.

The Government should increase the basic state pension to the level of the Pension Credit to reduce the need for means-testing and help low-paid workers. But in order to fund the rise, the state retirement age should gradually increase to 70 between 2020 and 2030.

It estimates the move would lead to around 7.1 per cent of GDP being spent on pensions by 2050/2051 compared with an estimated six per cent under the current system.

But why should many more people be expected to work until they drop - literally?

Is this the state we have come to in this country where individuals looking forward to a few last years of contentment before the Grim Reaper nods his head are instead ground into the dust in a final act of utter callousness? And don't talk to me about all this rubbish that we live longer?

The issue today is the increased pressure so many people find themselves labouring under as employers demand every last drop of blood.

Many middle executives are exhausted wrecks, prematurely aged by the time they are fifty, such are the demands their employers put on them.

Their fate is all too often to be dumped on the scrapheap with barely a thank-you.

Where are the fat pensions for them which are so eagerly grasped by incompetent chief constables and failed chief executives who stride one after another to sup at the gravy boat?

And why should those who have been thrifty and pushed money they could ill afford into a pension scheme from the age of 18 or 21 be expected to subsidise counterparts who have saved nothing and blown their cash on high living and foreign holidays?

The Government should stay out of it and stick to their role of providing a safety level for all. As for the CBI...they have absolutely no mandate to pontificate on a subject whose plight is largely their own members' doing.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 20, 2004
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