Thatcher’s Pension Reforms: 2nd Project Briefing

After around six months research by our project Research Assistant (Aled Davies) and PhD student (Thomas Gould) we are in a position to issue some early (and inevitably provisional) findings about Thatcher’s Pension Reforms:

  • Portable personal pensions provided the Conservatives with a solution to the problem of early leavers from occupational schemes left with inadequate pensions.
  • But the 1980s pension revolution was also bound up with the ideological polarisation of the 1970s.
  • Occupational pensions were seen by the Left as a potential source of investment in Britain’s ailing industrial base.
  • Portable personal pensions therefore met a practical need whilst also fulfilling an ideological function in both promoting individual initiative and providing a defence against state control of occupational funds.
  • The actuarial profession was profoundly concerned about the resulting transfer of risk to individuals, potential mis-selling, and the introduction of more complexity into the overall system. It also opposed the abolition of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS), which it saw as a vital component of a state/private partnership.

More details can be found in AHRC TPR Project Briefing Note 2.