Pencil full of lead: When it comes to retirement planning..

Close-up pencils. Business leadership concept

Over the years, I’ve adopted the Squirrel Syndrome when it comes to pensions. In common with the furry nuthoarders, I invested my modest assets in several different places, although declining cognitive ability means that I hope I can remember where they all are.

I’ve been more than happy with the performance of the last pension pot I opened up a few years ago with Royal London. They keep me regularly updated in easily-readable, usefully informative letters on how my savings have grown, and what I might expect at retirement.

Yer time’s up old chap

But more recently, they have also been telling me that, sorry old son, your time’s up. By that I don’t mean they are forecasting my demise, but simply the fact that when I’m 75 I will no longer be able to make any further contributions as they won’t qualify for tax relief. Which begs the simple question: “Why?”

There appears to be a disconnect between the government’s attitude towards pension savings – i.e. that you really shouldn’t be working, earning and saving after State pension age – and the realities of 21st century living for an increasingly healthy and motivated army of oldies.

If one of the big economic challenges now facing the world is how to sustain an ageing population, then isn’t it sensible to incentivise those in their 60s, 70s and beyond to keep working, stay fit, and continue to pay taxes?

What’s the answer?

Every country in Europe is struggling to find a solution to the problem of funding the pensions and healthcare of its older citizens. For some, the route is to encourage young people to come, live and work in their countries. For others it’s encouraging their citizens to have more kids. Or, as Viktor Orban, that charmless guy in charge of Hungary puts it, “procreation over immigration”.

It’s entirely logical to try and plug the hole in the pensions and healthcare budget by raking in more taxes from the working young. But isn’t it equally logical that encouraging older people to carry on working will help swell the country’s tax take while keeping them out of the local care home?

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