The Great Pensions Robbery

How New Labour Betrayed Retirement

Alex Brummer

No issue should have shamed the New Labour government elected in 1997 more than the systematic destruction of Britain’s pensions system. When Labour came to power, some 5 million workers enjoyed ‘gold standard’ defined benefit pensions – which paid them a percentage of final salaries – and Britain had the most robust system of private retirement provision in the world. That number has since collapsed to 1.6 million, leaving millions of Britons facing an uncertain future and, in many cases, the grim choice of working until they drop or an impoverished old age. The past dreams of a cottage on the South Coast or wintering on the Med or in Florida have long gone.

Here award-winning journalist Alex Brummer goes behind the scenes to explain exactly what has been going on. What emerges is a shocking story of cynicism and inaction, in which a government bent on penny-pinching, a civil service cowed into submission and individuals more interested in their careers than public service have all taken a part in fatally undermining a 100-year-old system. It’s also a story of breathtaking hypocrisy, where those in charge have feather-bedded their own pensions while destroying those of ordinary people. And, as Alex Brummer convincingly argues, we’re only just starting to live with the appalling consequences.

First published by Random House imprint (Penguin Random House) in 2010.


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