North Country Blues
I’m writing this BeeLine while travelling back home after a couple of days of the Never-Ending Pensions Tour up in the great north-east of our country, deep in the Rhubarb Triangle in fact. Today we did shows in Leeds and Hull and had hours of rain-swept, misty driving in between. The countryside up on the moors, that I’m still looking at from the train window as I write this is truly endless and when it’s hit by the rain off the sea like this there’s a sort of spectacular vastness about it all. It’s a big country. When you travel it all the time like I do that fact really hits you.
What I’m still thinking about as I’m writing this BeeLine is the conversation we had with some of our good IFA friends over dinner on Monday night. Every time we do dates up in the north-east Steve Geldard, our manager for the region, arranges small dinners (in excellent restaurants) where we can sit around with old friends and talk about pensions and stuff while chilling out for a few hours.
At the dinner, where almost everyone had rhubarb and custard for dessert, by the way, we got to talking about the Government’s system of Pension Credits and the low take-up rate that impoverishes so many pensioner households in the UK. We’d earlier been talking about the proposal to auto-enrol millions of unsuspecting citizens into pension saving in a few years time once the current Pensions Bill gets onto the statute books, thus utilising the power of inertia to make saving the default rather than not saving as is the case now. Someone tied the two issues together and asked why, if the Government is so worried about the low take-up of Pension Credit, the power of inertia isn’t applied there too; it would be a good idea, wouldn’t it, if everyone was auto-enrolled into the Pension Credit system too and those who shouldn’t get it encouraged to give it back? In that way we could be sure that everyone who’s entitled to the support available gets it.
I said at the dinner that I’d drawn a cartoon strip along those lines a while ago (“Like, have you drawn a cartoon strip about every aspect of pensions then?” “Er - yeah, probably.”) and I said that I’d look to see if I could dig it out when I got home. Well I found it. It’s part of that series of pension conversations that I do every week for Pensions Week magazine (I’ll be drawing next week’s one in a minute for the remaining couple of hours of this train journey - always something to get the person opposite you involved (“Do you draw cartoons then?” “No, not really.”)). Anyway, this particular strip I did a while ago was called ‘Slow on the Uptake’ and it’s reproduced here for you to see:
4 June 2008
Pension Conversations is published weekly in Pensions Week Magazine.
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