Britain’s Pensions Crisis – History and Policy

Editors: Hugh Pemberton, Pat Thane, Noel Whiteside
Price: £14.99
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 263
ISBN: 0197263852

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This book is a product of a conference held at the British Academy in June 2005. The emphasis is that British pensions are in crisis and that historical decisions have been inadequately discussed.

This is not a bedside book, however, and is aimed at the serious student or practitioner in the pensions field. The book is split into four sections: Britain’s System of Pensions, Women and Pensions in Britain, Occupational Pensions and Finance, and Lessons from Abroad.

The opening section looks at the history of pensions, from social insurance and the Beveridge Report that created the welfare state, to an examination of how the UK has failed to provide a decent basic pension, even though it was one of the leaders in pension provision.

The second section covers the issue of gender and pensions and how these issues have effectively been sidelined by pension policies over the years. Section three deals with the rise of occupational pensions and questions where the pensions system has gone wrong, as well as considering ways of financing pensions in the UK. Finally, the book looks at how other countries handle pensions to try and find a solution for the UK.

A total of 12 contributors have written a chapter each, in addition to those from the editors. This does make the book awkward to read, as there are so many different styles.

The bibliography at the end of each chapter highlights the academic nature of this book, and that it’s not for the general HR practitioner. However, it will be of use to students of the social sciences as well as pensions professionals.

Useful? Two out of five stars
Well-written? Three out of five stars
Practical? Two out of five stars
Inspirational? One out of five stars
Value for money? Three out of five stars
Overall? Two out of five stars

Reviewed by Ron Hancock, bursar and clerk, Bradford Grammar School

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