Monday 14 March 2011

Union Street on Hutton

They say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Well, I've not been mugged and I'm not going to be donning a Tory-blue rosette this side of hell freezing over, but there has been a nasty blast of realism from the Hutton Report hitting my rose-coloured view of the world.

Once upon a time there was barely any such thing as a public sector employer. But even then employers such as Titus Salt and later the Liberal William Lever made sure that their employees were well-housed, well-paid and looked after if they became too ill to work. At one time every large employer in the country provided generous sick leave and a final salary pension scheme. That's at the heart of this whole issue, employees make employers money during their productive years, if they didn't then the employers would soon get rid of them. In turn employers made sure that their employees were saved from an impoverished old age.

Why don't private sector employers provide final salary schemes anymore? It's not because of life expectancy because you could fix that by increasing the retirement age as the public sector has already done. It's because the government provides a safety net equivalent to someone working full time in a minimum wage job. The Government are in effect subsidising private sector employers to increase profits by reducing pensions to their workers. And because public sector workers are properly looked after we become a political football.

Well, no longer, at least not for me. I've already wasted 14 years paying 6-6.5% of my salary to the government on the promise that they'll look after me. I trusted Major, Blair and Brown, but Cameron took only a couple of months to show that he couldn't be trusted. Even if the coming changes aren't that bad, my money will be at risk of any government in the next 30 years. I'm just young enough to chalk off the money I've wasted to experience and start again trying to provide for my own comfortable retirement. So for now I'm in my own boat same as most private sector workers. It's going to be harder doing the sailing on my own, but at least I've got hold of the rudder.

No comments: