Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pensions Are Anything but Old Hat

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pensions Are Anything but Old Hat

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sophie Doughty

Pension plans and saving for the future are not exactly hot topics in the playground.

So it was a brave move by Pensions Minister, James Purnell, when he decided to visit a Newcastle girls' school, to talk pension reform.

The MP dropped in at the Sacred Heart RC High School in Fenham, Newcastle, for a debate on Labour's White Paper on pensions reform.

And to his delight he was not greeted by teenagers with blank faces, stifling yawns.

Mr Purnell said he hoped the event would encourage young people to start thinking about their retirement at an early age.

"When you talk about pensions people think you must be talking to people over 65 but the White Paper is aimed at young people," he said. "The real problem we have is people not saving enough so I was trying to plant the seed in young minds."

The debate was arranged to coincide with the school's Enterprise Day, where the girls talked about financial management.

Assistant headteacher, Sue Cooke, said the girls, aged 15 and 18, asked a range of questions.

"The headgirl asked if they were expected to work until they were 68 then wouldn't that affect their health," said Ms Cooke.

"Mr Purnell said as people were living longer naturally and having healthier lifestyles, retirement ages had to be higher so people paid into pension schemes longer.

"Although the girls understood this, they were a bit concerned about working over the age of 60. Mr Purnell also said that in the next couple of years the retirement age for women would be made higher to be brought in line with the age for men, which the girls were not impressed with. They asked why the men's age couldn't be brought down to be in line with the women's, but he said that would mean less people paying into the pension pot."

Although the girls said they rarely think about pensions they did admit to worrying about future finances. However, it is student loans, debt and house prices that is on their minds. …

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