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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  2009  >  December  >  My Last BeeLine

My Last BeeLine

Oh well! It had to happen what with me changing jobs and everything; so here I am writing my last ever BeeLine. I suppose Iíve known for months that Iíd be doing this one day, so Iíve had plenty of time to think about what to write. But as usual with me I havenít really done that (like I havenít done my tax return yet either). Iím rubbish at forward planning if Iím being honest; so here I am in the fogged-in airport just writing it anyway.

Today Iím also on my way to the last ever gig in the Never-Ending Pensions Tour (which is about to do so after all) and, yet again, my early morning plane is delayed. Itís the way things are.

Thinking about it plenty of the BeeLines Iíve written over the years have been composed on railway stations and in airport lounges while Iíve been travelling the country. Itís become sort of a way of life to me I guess. Iíve actually even started to think about it as being normal.

Itís normal for me too to be writing. Iíve been knocking out the BeeLines for the BeeHive site now for just on ten years; thatís a long time. Plenty of people have asked me over the years how I find so much to write about, ďI mean, like itís just a website about pensions, right?Ē Well thatís right, but if Iím being honest my main regret has been that Iíve never really thought that Iíve ever done enough to cover everything thatís gone on Ė itís a big subject and, sadly, the main feature of the UK pensions scene has been constant change.

The rate of change seems to me to be picking up speed again (unlike the plane Iím sitting in on the runway right now (we were boarded while I was halfway through that last paragraph)). Indeed, I think that as 2010 starts weíre at the beginning of the most important five-year period in the history of pensions in this country since the end of the 1950s.

At the moment weíve got fewer than 100,000 active workplace pension schemes in the UK, but the auto-enrolment legislation will affect something like 1.1 million employers. That means weíre going to have about a million new workplace pension schemes created in the next five years. Yes, you heard that right; a million! If that hasnít got ĎWow!í written all over it I donít know what has.

But thatís the future and todayís BeeLine at least is supposed to be about the past. That was my intention anyway. What were the highlights? That sort of thing. Well, thereíve been plenty of them, but to pick a fewÖ

The so-called Battle of the Blogs† I had with James Purnell when he was the Minister for Pensions Reform was kind of a defining moment for the BeeHive I suppose. Got a lot of interest.

The monitoring and reporting on the A-Day changes too Ė a time when I really didnít think there were enough hours in the day to keep up with it all (even with ace-researcher Ms Bruun on the case). One of my favourite ever BeeLines was published on the eve of A-Day in fact. That was when we decided to put out a†Cartoon History of A-Day††that reprinted a hundred or so of the Planet Stakeholder cartoon strips that Iíd somehow managed to draw in my sparse spare time between 2004 and 2006. We got a load of good feedback about that one and to be honest it probably contained more accessible pension information than most other commentatorsí scribblings on the subject.

It was also a great honour to find that the BeeHive was named as one of the Timesí Top 50 Business Blogs in 2008 and then went on to make their Top 20 in 2009. To be honest it was only then that I found out what a blog was Ė Iíd never heard the term before. I just thought Iíd been wobbling on about pensions; thatís all.

On the wobbling front, one of my biggest mistakes I think came back at the beginning of the last football World Cup when, for reasons that are no longer clear to me, I decided to write a BeeLine detailing the pension systems in all the competing countries. To start with it was an amazingly complex and time-consuming† research task. It also ended up as the longest BeeLine I had ever written and as a result probably the least read. Worse than that, though, by the time Iíd finished it there were only eight teams left in the competition so it was all a bit pointless really. But you canít get it right every time. Well, I canít.

Anyway, Iím going on a bit and our planeís finally looking like taking off and that means Iíll soon get to eat my breakfast so I should just sign off I guess. Before I do that though Iíd just like to say thanks to all of you whoíve stuck with the BeeLines through the years. One of the pleasures of my life has been to read the many e-mails youíve written in to the BeeHive; theyíve kept me going through the tough stuff. Thanks for being BeeLiners.

Thatís it then. The end of the BeeHive. But itís not the end of my blogging days. Iíll still be writing about pensions (itís what I do) and I hope I wonít be that hard to find. Who knows, maybe youíll seek me out againÖ

Steve Signature

19 January 2010

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