Pensions and stuff

I'm collecting here all the pieces I have written on the UK state pension and its problems. What a shambles. Here are my recent posts, in disaster order.


As I explain in these posts, I would be supportive of WASPI if they were only concerned with addressing the blatant injustice of the 2011 acceleration of the pension age rise for women. But they aren't, and what they are actually after is seriously unfair to other groups. So I can't support them. And I don't like the way they and their supporters behave towards people who don't agree with them. 

But the 2011 change IS unfair. Kudos to Mhairi Black of the SNP for getting the 2011 acceleration debated in Parliament, and a very impressive result - 158 to ZERO in favour of rethinking it. 

Here I stand, I can do no other (Position paper on WASPI)

The new State Pension

The new State Pension is an unutterably inadequate response to the pensions timebomb. It enshrines expectations that we already know to be unsustainable, and sets up intergenerational injustice on an unprecedented scale. Not only that, but Treasury penny-pinching makes it unfair to a good many older people, too. It is a disaster. 

Where do we go from here?

My Forbes post at New Year traced the history of the State Pension and explained how we got into our current mess. We are at a turning point. Something radical has to be done, and the new State Pension isn't it. 

Unfortunately the Slog took exception to this piece on the grounds that it didn't support the WASPI argument for restoration of the state pension to 60 for all women born in the 1960s. Since the piece wasn't about WASPI his demolition of it was distinctly odd, but he didn't like me pointing this out. I've included this piece here because it makes the same point that I made in the WASPI position paper. The solution to these cliff edge and entitlement problems is a Universal Basic Income. 

(I'm told the Slog has written another demolition piece. Frankly I can't be bothered to read it.)

I've also written a couple of posts explaining how the NI fund works and why it is inevitably going to end up bankrupt in a few years unless there is radical reform of State Pensions and their funding.

The Fund that isn't a fund
Dangerous assumptions and dodgy maths

In summary:
  • the existing State Pension system is complex, irrational and not fit for purpose, and attempts to tinker with it over the last few years have only made matters worse. 
  • the new State Pension is set fair to be a foul-up on a similar scale to Universal Credit, and the fallout will last for decades. 
Oh, and while I am on the subject of the disaster that is the benefits system - which Universal Credit will make worse - here is my post on the sheer hideousness of benefit sanctions. They deliberately hurt people. And they don't work anyway. This matters, because those people who don't qualify for pensions (including quite a lot who thought they did) have to claim benefits instead. We cannot reform the State Pension without also reforming the benefits system. 

The road to the workhouse

Here is another post, which is a cross-post from another blog. The author happens to be a women's state pensions campaigner, but that is not what this post is about. Her depiction of trying to navigate the DWP system is simultaneously hilarious and harrowing.

Kafka at the DWP

Can we please have a comprehensive review of the entire State Pension AND benefits system, with a view to replacing the whole lot with something that actually works?

Intergenerational Unfairness

The reasons for the apparently intractable callousness of the post-war generation towards younger people. 


  1. Hey Frances, just catching up on your blog and am saddened to see another great blogger fall victim to a twitterstorm. Just wanted to say that as an international reader without a vested interest you seem obviously correct on the substance of the issues as well as in the dignity of your presentation.

    Many of my favourite bloggers have been hit by the twitter mob and at this point I feel it's more something you should wear as a badge of honour than a reason for discomfort. Remember the collective action problem: when the many gain a little and the few lose much you can be guaranteed a fight. Please don't allow yourself to be discouraged just because one side is screaming louder than the other.

    Good luck and best wishes!

  2. I'm not much of a twitter user myself but someone I follow retweeted a comment by Frances which in my view did great harm to her credibility as an economist or commentator.

    Clearly now that Francis is writing for Forbes and hopes to win more columnist work she will be "towing the company line" as she tries to win a seat at the big table, like so many economists before her. The lazy article above demonstrates this well.

    Very disappointed in you.

    1. Good grief. You think a single tweet taken out of context is more representative of me than the huge body of work I've done over the last five years, do you?

      For your information, I have written for Forbes for over three years. I have never "toed the company line" and have no intention of doing so. But of course you will no doubt think that this is spin.

      The article above is a summary post bringing together my writing on pensions, none of which is "lazy".

      Very disappointed by this lazy and ill - informed comment.


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