BLAISE TAPP: Generation X's retirement plans are heading for stormy waters

We all know the one about the only certainties in life being death and taxes, but I would now add having to work longer than we first thought as another sure thing.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 26th July 2017, 8:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:16 am

Last week, right before our politicians skipped off on their extended summer break, millions of the younger members of Generation X were hit with the news that we would have to work for a year longer than had previously been expected, if we want to draw our pension while we fritter away our days in front of daytime television.

The magic number for those of us born between April 1970 and April 1978 is 68, which is the age that we will have to reach before we can be classed as pensioners.

Although the initial reaction from those of us affected by this shift in policy was one of indignant shock – the announcement came out of the blue – it really shouldn’t have been a surprise.

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We are expected to be grateful for the 20-odd-year notice period that our wise and compassionate leaders have granted us and we shouldn’t forget that this will save the public purse £74billion.

Do you get a warm tingly sensation for playing your part in such a noble sacrifice? Me neither. Some baby boomers take exception at being described as the jammiest of generations but it is, broadly speaking, true.

A fair proportion of this enormous constituency of Brits have benefited from final salary pensions, a huge surge in house prices and a succession of overly generous governments who have literally thrown money at both the elderly and middle-aged, in a clear attempt to appeal to those who are most likely to turn out on polling day.

For years now it has been obvious to many of us that there isn’t a magic money tree in the gardens of Westminster, yet that didn’t stop those in power from introducing universal free travel and winter fuel allowance for pensioners, regardless of what they had in the bank.

Then we have the triple lock promise on future pension increases which very few of those in parliament wish to tinker with for fear of backlash at the ballot box.

What is almost certain is that none of the aforementioned perks of old age will be available to those of us who will take to our armchairs in the late 2030s and early ’40s. Nobody has a crystal ball but the outlook for both my generation and that of my children could be much rosier than it currently is.

We still don’t have much of an idea about how we will tackle the ticking timebomb that is social care, wages have stagnated over an inordinate period of time and any youngsters considering a university education face paying back at least £35,000 for years to come, making it increasingly tricky to climb the very wobbly property ladder.

All of this makes it even trickier for those of us without final salary pensions to save a huge amount in private schemes, which is precisely the advice that we receive on a regular basis from both the government and financial experts.

I would suggest that the bad news about our retirements will only get worse, and I certainly won’t be setting my heart on being in a position to put my feet up at 68.