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The New Pension Mix in Europe

Recent Reforms, Their Distributional Effects and Political Dynamics


Edited By David Natali

This book – based on a research project carried out by the Observatoire Social Européen asbl, with the financial support of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) – looks at the most recent developments in pension policy and politics in Europe and advances our understanding of the field in three respects: firstly, it contributes to improve our knowledge of the most recent reform wave passed in the wake of the recent economic and financial crisis; secondly, it assesses the long-term financial and social sustainability of pensions; thirdly, it analyses the politics of pensions and the way policymakers and stakeholders interact in order to address the major challenges to pensions.

The evidence proposed by six country chapters (about Italy, France, Finland, Poland, the Netherlands and UK) and three more transversal chapters (about the role of the EU, that of trade unions in pension reforms, and the main challenges to pension systems in Europe) proves that pension systems have been altered in the wake of the recent crisis. The more evident changes have consisted of: the halt – at least in some countries – of the spread of private pension funds; the improvement in the financial viability of the systems paralleled by more evident risks for the future adequacy of pension benefits; and the alteration of pension politics with the risk of the progressive marginalisation of the trade union movement. In many countries, reforms have been passed without any major social concertation, while the European Union (EU) has had a more evident influence, especially in the countries hit most by the crisis. As a consequence of these trends, we see the emergence of a "new" pension mix in Europe, with new institutional settings, and new challenges.

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Britain’s Pension Reforms: a New Departure? (Noel Whiteside)


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Britain’s Pension Reforms: a New Departure?



British pensions are among the most complicated in the world, as much a mystery to the UK population as to scholars seeking to analyse their operation. Over the past decade, governments of varied political stripes have sought to simplify and clarify the situation. The final elements of UK pension reform are now being put in place. By 2018, the transformation should be complete.

As of 5 April 2016, the Basic State Pension (BSP – first pillar) returns to its Beveridgean origins. The state earnings-related second pension (once the State Earnings Related Pension, SERPS, renamed S2P in 2002), disappears. A single flat-rate state pension will be offered to all reaching State Pension Age (SPA) after that date, taken that they have completed 35 years of earnings-related National Insurance Contributions (NICs). Credits exist for family care. The new BSP, however, is substantially higher than its predecessor. At £155.65 per week (the previous BSP was just over £119), it is above means-tested supplementary Pension Credit payable to all elderly on inadequate income. However, any appearance of state generosity is more apparent than real. The Treasury only agreed to pension reform on condition that it was fiscally neutral. As is demonstrated below, a substantial proportion of the retiring population will not benefit from any new largesse. This reform is designed to contain public liability, not to extend it.

As elsewhere in Europe,...

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