Intergenerational Commission

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2018 National Retired Members Conference
1 January 2018
Carried as Amended

This conference rejects the proposals contained in the Resolution Foundation think tank’s report of the intergenerational Commission, chaired by Lord David Willetts (nicknamed Two Brains), titled “A New Generational Contract”.

Conference further rejects the myth of generational unfairness on which the report is founded, and which masks the fact that the real unfairness is based on wealth and class. Wealthy pensioners compared to poor pensioners; privileged young people compared to those young people struggling on minimum wage.

The Intergenerational Commission is a group set up by the Resolution Foundation which claims to be an independent think tank working to improve the living standards of those in Britain on a low to middle income. It does not define the upper limit of that range. Both the Foundation and the Commission are chaired by Lord David Willetts. The Commission has recently (April 2018) published a report giving its views on maintaining what it calls the intergenerational contract which it claims has been eroded in recent years because “Millenials” (those born between 1981 and 2000) have not seen their disposable income increase over that of the previous generation (generation X born 1966 to 1980) at a similar age.

The report claims that the UK’s ageing population means that public spending on health, care and social security will reach £24bn by 2030 and £63bn by 2040. It focuses heavily on measures to protect younger workers from funding these costs mainly by taking measures to transfer wealth from those who are retired or nearing retirement and also by taking wealth from retired and older people to fund health and social care. Headline ideas relating to pensioners include:-

• A proposal that state pensioners who continue in employment should no longer be exempt from paying National Insurance at the appropriate rate and should pay 12% National Insurance (NI)

• A proposal that pensions (other than the state pension) should be subject to 6% National Insurance

• A “progressive” property tax replacing the current council tax system that could penalise those who following the collapse in defined benefit pensions have taken advantage of Government freedoms to invest in property in order to provide them with a respectable income in retirement.

• A proposal that tax relief on lump sum drawn on retirement should be capped

There are also proposals to scrap the triple lock and to bring forward by seven years the proposal to raise the qualifying age for State Retirement Pension to 68.

These proposals if implemented would immediately result in a drop in living standards for those retired or nearing retirement which they would be unable to counter. As the Commission is not a Government sponsored body it is not clear what the political response might be. Nevertheless it is concerning that the Commission is targeting the “easy” options rather than the “fat cats” in the private and public sectors being given over-excessive rewards in terms of salaries, bonuses, share options and the like which are out of line with the earnings of the rank and file.

None of these proposals does anything to improve the situation for poorer younger people, but are simply an excuse to squeeze more money out of the older generation. Older people have more than paid over many years for anything they get via National Insurance Contributions, taxes and their own contributions to occupational pensions, as well as the value of the work that they have performed for the benefit of the economy and the community.

Conference notes these proposals with concern and instructs the NRMC to:

1. liaise with the NEC;

2. work with UNISON Young Members’ Organisation and relevant service groups to develop alternative proposals with which to approach UNISON Labour Link, with the National Pensioners Convention, Age UK, Age UK Scotland, the Scottish Pensioners Forum and any other relevant bodies to use any opportunity and all means possible to reject the narrative that old people are robbing their grand-childrens’ future;

3. oppose any Government action to implement the proposals in the Commission’s report outlined above;.

4. resist any attempt to extract any more money from the older generation.

5. Conference further instructs the NRMC to report back to Conference 2019.