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What would Thomas Attwood think of our Pensions Act?

July 21, 2011

In April 1833, Thomas Attwood spoke in a parliamentary debate opposing a proposition to ‘enable and induce’ the labouring classes to invest their joint money in the public funds. 

Such a proceeding on their part, would, in his opinion, be highly dangerous . . . and, he would, therefore, not give his countenance to a manœuvre which would induce the lower classes to place the savings of their industry on a precarious footing. 

The Pensions Act 2008: savings will be placed on an even more precarious footing – in the stock market

In November 2008 the Pensions Act 2008 introduced measures aimed at encouraging greater private saving in a National Employment Savings Trust [NEST]. The Pensions Act 2008, comes into effect in 2012 and will, for the first time, place a legal duty on employers to enrol all eligible employees automatically into a pension scheme and contribute towards their retirement

NEST contributions – 4 per cent of salary for staff, 3 per cent from employers and 1 per cent from the taxpayer – would be invested in the stock market as in the Australian model.

The Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, said that the Government would offer no guarantee as to the value of the funds: “I can’t think of a government anywhere in the world that guarantees against stock-market fluctuations.”

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