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Britain's Pensions CrisisHistory and Policy$
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Hugh Pemberton, Pat Thane, and Noel Whiteside

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263853

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263853.001.0001

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Politics and Pensions in Post-war Britain

Politics and Pensions in Post-war Britain

(p.39) 3. Politics and Pensions in Post-war Britain
Britain's Pensions Crisis

Hugh Pemberton

British Academy

Understanding the politics of post-war British pensions in its broadest sense is imperative if we are to understand the nature of the pensions crisis that Britain faces, and essential too if we are to devise effective solutions to address that crisis. This chapter examines the development of Britain's overall system of pensions since the Beveridge Report. After discussing the current crisis of complexity in British pensions, it surveys recent work on path dependence in pensions and then analyses developments in British pensions after the publication of the Beveridge Report in 1942. The Pensions Commission, appointed by the government to review British pensions and to make recommendations on future policy, rightly decided that it must necessarily examine Britain's overall system of pensions provision, not just the crisis in voluntary pensions provision. The phenomenon of sub-system contractual lock-in lay behind the initial post-war shift to, and the subsequent rapid development of, occupational pensions in Britain. This chapter also discusses the Beveridge settlement, the growth of occupational pensions in the 1950s, and the adoption of a state graduated pension.

Keywords:   Britain, politics, pensions, occupational pensions, Beveridge Report, Pensions Commission, path dependence, voluntary pensions, sub-system contractual lock-in

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