Yesterday's Autumn Statement from Tory Chancellor George Osborne once again bowed to demands from big business for state subsidies with concessions including a cap on business rates, reduced employers National Insurance contributions and tax relief for city speculators.
The TUC is right to criticise the absence of any measures to deal with the UK’s youth unemployment crisis of almost 1 million under 25’s jobless – more than 1 in 5 of young workers.
But the headline grabbing proposal to bring forward by a decade the rise in the state retirement age to 68 (and eventually 69) is a duplicitous cashing in on the future living standards and retirement rights of a younger generation of today’s workers, in order to lower pension liabilities and therefore secure a Treasury windfall from actuarial reductions. As Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary pointed out in the union's response to the Autumn Statement:
‘Raising the state pension age is cruel and unnecessary. It may be ok for the better off to work until they are 70 because they will have some years to enjoy their retirement. But for millions, they will never see their pension because they will die before that age. But does anyone seriously expect a 70-year old paramedic or nurse attending them in a medical emergency. And should we expect people who sweep our streets, clean our hospitals and schools to carry on doing those jobs?’