Eleven: Pensions, public opinion and policy


This chapter looks at the evidence on what the public wants from pensions, and at how people react when confronted with the potential ways of achieving it. The first section discusses why it became apparent that wide-ranging pension reform was necessary. The next section describes recommendations made by the Pensions Commission (of which the author was a member) in 2005, the government’s reaction to them, and the reforms that are now being put into legislation. Subsequent sections discuss public attitudes to pensions in general, public views of the trade-off between the fundamental choices in tackling the pensions problem, and then specific views of how entitlement to state pensions should be ‘earned’. For social policy to ‘work’ and reforms to stick, social policy ultimately requires sustained public support. The conclusion discusses the long-term prospects for survival of the reforms in the light of these findings.

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