The state pension is either a welfare benefit or a £100bn Ponzi scheme

Yet many bristle to hear the state pension described as a benefit. To many, they have paid in and earned it. But the state pension is either a benefit or a £100bn Ponzi scheme – the money you put in instantly disappears to cover what is owed to previous investors.

Increasing the state pension age to 68 is, based on today’s sentiments, hugely unfair. Millions more will die before they can claim a penny, and it will mean those who can no longer work have to draw on other benefits.

Whatever happens to the state pension in the future, it will certainly no longer be the bedrock of retirement for many. Advances in longevity have slowed, so the payments come too late for many people. Like gold-plated final-salary pensions, it may well become a remnant of better times.

What’s more galling is that the decisions about the future of the state retirement wage are being made by MPs and civil servants who still benefit from salary-linked and inflation-proofed pensions that will provide a handsome income for them in old age.

It is time for a total rethink and rebrand. To ensure it stays affordable, the state pension will have to be diminished slowly over the years, with top-ups only to those who need them.

Means-testing is not the answer. This would simply penalise those who have diligently saved into private pensions and who are taxed on them, and therefore compensate the Treasury.

But something has to give. The system is unsustainable; we need a national conversation about how to save the state pension.

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