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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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Why So Different? Why So Bad a Future?

Why So Different? Why So Bad a Future?

(p.64) 4. Why So Different? Why So Bad a Future?
Britain's Pensions Crisis

Howard Glennerster

British Academy

While virtually all European countries with advanced welfare states are worrying about how to cut back their state pension generosity, and sometimes partially succeeding, the United Kingdom faces the opposite problem. It is offering its citizens both inadequate and very varied pensions for the future. The UK began providing state pensions at the beginning of the twentieth century and has been unusual in Europe in developing a large private occupational pensions sector built on and fostering sophisticated financial markets in London. The country relies more on means-testing than any other European country. No one thinking of the UK as conforming to the ‘Beveridge model’ would have expected that. William Beveridge was so adamant that this was not what the British people desired. A different theoretical starting point is needed to explain these dilemmas. It has to take account of the labour market and the particular structure of the trade union movement in the UK and its relationship to the Labour Party. The chapter also considers the role of the Pensions Commission.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, Europe, William Beveridge, pensions, labour market, Labour Party, Pensions Commission, trade union movement

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