Raising the pension age in Britain

6 Feb

Media yesterday announced a new report that the state pension age for Britons “may need” to rise to 71. I got mine – plus free bus travel in England, also under threat – at 65. The threshold now stands between 66 and 67 and is set to rise to 68.

This from the Guardian, February 5:

Les Mayhew, associate head of global research at the International Longevity Centre and author of the report State Pension Age and Demographic Change, said: “In the UK, state pension age would need to be 70 or 71 compared with 66 now, to maintain the status quo of the number of workers per state pensioner.”

I know it’s difficult to do this. Was it Slavoj Žižek who observed that “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism” ? But if we step back for a moment and properly digest the logic on offer, we see in those few words the criminal speciousness of the notion – staggeringly far-fetched when you think about it, though we’re hardly encouraged to do that – that private profit and capital accumulation on the one hand, overall prosperity and wellbeing on the other, go together like a horse and carriage.

The crucial metric, according to Les Mayhew, is the ratio of workers to pensioners. Why though? The number of workers needed, whether they like it or not – and most don’t, given its reduction to deadening drudgery supervised by yes-men – to create wealth falls year on year, courtesy of automation. In a sane political economy, with wealth produced to meet the needs of humanity at large, as opposed to the eye-watering enrichment of fractional elites, that would be A Good Thing, not a source of fear and precarity. It would free us for pursuits more fulfilling: on the one hand leisure and lifelong learning; on the other such expenditures of time and energy as caring for our children’s children, currently unvalued because unpaid.

Even within the system we do have, where wealth is  produced for the eye-watering enrichment of fractional elites and not  to meet the needs of humanity at large, the metric laid out by Les Mayhew – I haven’t read the report so can’t say whether he endorses the unspoken premise or is simply drawing our attention to its logic – would only make sense if the labour of every able person between, say, 23 and 60 was already being fully harnessed.

It isn’t though, is it?

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7 Replies to “Raising the pension age in Britain

  1. Putting on the cynics head [again: I wondered when the other shoe was going to drop.

    Raising the pension age should assist the latest ‘blue sky thinking’ emanating from within that fractional elite in the UK which is calling for (a) conscription and a citizens army; and (b) an expeditionary force to send to the Ukraine.

    Thus ensuring that fighting Russia to the last Briton* [fractional elite have an excused duty chitty] happens more ‘efficiently’ – ie quicker. Hastening the day when those fractional elites are finally rid of all those deplorables – ie the 99%.

    *apparently the average age of a front line ‘soldier’ in the Ukraine is somewhere in the mid forties. Which means there are a fair sized number of sixty, approaching seventy, year olds** stuck in the trenches.

    **more grandad’s army then dad’s army.

    At the present rate of attrition it surely cannot be too long before the only way to qualify for a pension is to be in possession of a death certificate. Which will then automatically disqualify you the moment it is presented.

  2. It will save money on paying pensions. No more people will be employed but more people can be harrased by the dole office.

  3. The infinitely receding mirage of retirement:


    The cause?

    “The rise is primarily the result of rising food and energy costs, researchers said.”

    (Always good to have “researchers” on hand!)

    But perhaps sexual inequality has something to do with it?

    “A separate report by provider Now Pensions and the Pensions Policy Institute has suggested that, typically, women face needing to work for an extra 19 years to retire with the same pension savings as men.”

    So yet more divide-and-rule.

  4. How about this?

    We are seeing a new phase of primitive accumulation. Public resources that have been gradually accumulating over the last half century are now up for grabs. Thus initiating a new phase of dispossession.

    • True. The question of whether rentier elites in the West have moved us from capitalism to neofeudalism is of more than esoteric significance.

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