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Minister for Pension Reform Calls for Better Education on retirement Options

The British public today face a multitude of financial considerations, including a generally spiralling personal debt and a lack of and ethos of saving for the future. Pension funds and the costs of retirement have also come under increasing scrutiny, and the Minister for Pension Reform has stated that more needs to be done to make the public more aware of the problems ahead.

The Minister, Stephen Timms MP, has stated that Europe needs to ensure that people have access to a better financial education and better information to allow them to make confident choices regarding their retirement. He was speaking at an EU Presidency meeting in Brussels today. This is the ideal opportunity for Britain to take the lead in combatting this problem, as the UK holds the EU Presidency at present.

It is believed that there are at least three million people in the UK not saving enough for their futures, relying instead on the Government or on plastic credit. It is therefore believed to be crucial that financial education and information is available to help them plan for their future. Ministers, social and pension partners from across the EU met at this event and shared the steps they are taking to ensure better information for making decisions on retirement provision.

Aging Population

This issue is hardly new, and stems from the demographic alteration that the so ““ called “developped world” is experiencing due to better health care, diet and standards of living. Mr. Timms said: “Europe is facing a huge challenge. Across the EU over the next 25 years the working age population will fall by 7% while the population aged 65 and over will rise by 51%. We are living longer and have high expectations of our lifestyle in retirement.

“We must help people plan actively for their retirement,” he continued. “Financial education and information are important for setting realistic retirement expectations. We need to make sure that people are able to make choices which will help them realise these expectations. We also need to support people on low incomes to decide how they can build up their pension entitlements.”

He also spoke of the need for cooperation, and the way in which this can positively affect the situation. “We are working with partners in the voluntary sector to ensure that we are reaching people approaching retirement,” he claimed. “We are also working with the Financial Services Authority and other partner organisations in its Financial Capability Strategy, which will include schools and higher education, to ensure that young people are confident in decision making about financial planning and retirement.”

It is true that this is a looming crisis, which has seen some fears surface regarding the potential raising of the age of retirement in an attempt to maintain the balance between the numbers in work and the numbers retired. But in an international economy this may be both a problem that cannot be solved within national borders and also one that ignores the other side of the coin. Much of the world is still being kept at atrocious levels of living standards, and it would seem to the objective observer that only an attempt to resolve all sides of the displacement of wealth problem will meet with any form of success.

Jethro Marsh

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