Chapter

Why So Different? Why So Bad a Future?

Howard Glennerster

in Britain's Pensions Crisis

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263853
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734281 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197263853.003.0004

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

Why So Different? Why So Bad a Future?

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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

Chapter.  4048 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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