Britain has one of the worst state pensions in Europe?

28 October 2014

At a time when our ‘extra’ contribution to the EU is all over the news (did he know about it? What’s he going to do about it?), it can’t come as good news that, in terms of State Pension rankings, we are being shafted compared with our European neighbours.

New figures calculated by the International Longevity Centre show that the UK state pension of £113.10 a week is worth just a third of the average salary of someone in work. When comparing the state offering in other European countries with the average wage there, this puts us at a lowly 21st place out of 27 countries, meaning we will come down to earth with a larger bump than our continental friends.

pensionsTop of the state-provided shop is Greece, where workers get over 90% of the average wage in state pension provision. And they get to live in Greece, which seems a bit unfair. However, Greece has had some economic ‘issues’ shall we say, which can’t be helped by a massive pensions bill, and Greece is joined in the top ten pension spots by Spain, Cyprus, Italy and Portugal, all of whom have been found a bit short recently.

But just to prove it’s not the weather and/or shocking economic forecasts that make the difference on pensions, Austria, Finland and Belgium all also rated above average, while maintaining relatively strong public finances. And rubbish weather.

Helen Creighton, of the International Longevity Centre, said: "The Government aspires for the UK to be the best place in the world to grow old. Whilst the UK is by no means the worst place in Europe to grow old, we’ve got a lot to do to top the European league."

However, before any tall horses are mounted, note that the data used was based on an OECD study in 2012 and does not take into account reforms that will set the state pension in Britain at a "flat-rate" £155 a week in 2016. Also, it is worth remembering that the average salaries in different countries will vary, as will the cost of living, meaning those pensioners living it up in the Southern Mediterranean might not actually feel so much better off.

Who are we kidding?

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