Some six million people in their late 30s and 40s will now have to wait until they are aged 68 before they can draw their state pension
You can argue about the fairness of it until you are blue in the face as I today will no doubt do over a long lazy lunch with friends.
You can also point an accusatory finger at the Government for trying to ‘bury’ the news by timing the announcement to coincide with the BBC’s disclosure of the extraordinary pay some of its top earners enjoy – for doing little more than read an autocue without hesitation, repetition or deviation.
But the fact remains that this Government and future administrations will continue to look at ways of cutting the cost of providing a state pension to help see us through old age.
Especially if we continue to live on average longer than our parents and grandparents – well into our late 70s. We will have to take it on the chin.
Of course, last week’s announcement that some six million people currently in their late 30s and 40s will now have to wait until they are aged 68 – as opposed to 67 – before they can draw their state pension is disappointing.
But it will not be the last pushing back of the state retirement age and I would not be surprised that by the time my three sons (all in their early 20s) come to retire, they will not get a penny of state pension until well into their 70s.
At the very least the Government must do a better job of communicating news of its changes to state retirement age than previous administrations have done in the past.
The appalling way the pushing back of the retirement age for women born in the 1950s was handled still rankles with many people (just take a look at website waspi.co.uk). Those affected by the latest change must be contacted directly so that they can adjust their retirement planning accordingly.
The Government should also resist any further cutbacks to the tax incentives available to those who save into a pension – work based or a stand-alone plan.
To push back the state retirement age is regrettable but understandable. But to then follow this move with either a curtailing of pension contribution tax relief or the annual amount that can be saved into a pension (currently £40,000) would be unforgivable.
Bank branches are closing quicker than it takes Jeremy Corbyn to change his mind over whether a future Labour government would rid the nation of tuition fees.
But it is not all doom and gloom on the high street. According to management consultant Boston Consulting Group, branches are just as vital to the future of retail banking as mobile apps.
Customers, it concludes, want both the ‘ease and immediacy’ of digital banking as well as the convenience of a local branch.
Nottingham Building Society has just put its support behind branch banking with the acquisition of seven premises
As if on cue, Nottingham Building Society has just put its support behind branch banking with the acquisition of seven premises (their leases) from Norwich & Peterborough, a brand owned but being confined to history by owner Yorkshire (society, not bank).
It will take over the outlets late this year, rebrand them, give them a lick of paint and reopen all seven in time for Christmas.
When the outlets – all in market towns – are up and running, Nottingham will have 67 branches in total, more than double the number five years ago.
Unlike most rival societies, Nottingham provides a range of financial advice facilities through its branches – everything from estate agency services to mortgage advice, will writing and financial planning.
Services which are conducive to customers coming in to a branch rather than resorting to the internet to do their banking.
Nottingham boss David Marlow is convinced he is building a winning business, pointing to a boom in branch-based savings and mortgage lending since the investment in new branches. He believes he can increase the network to close to 80.
It is the Midlands version of Metro Bank, a bank also busy investing in new branches albeit south of the Watford Gap.
Let’s hope Nottingham’s investment in bricks and mortar reaps its just rewards. The defenestration of our high streets by the country’s big banks and building societies has gone too far. Like our bookshops and chemists, we need our banks.