A drastic solution to a pensions crisis
The Daily Telegraph At the last count, the combined deficit of Britain’s 5,945 privatesector salary pension schemes was a “jaw-dropping” £419.7bn – or nearly a quarter of Britain’s annual GDP, says Jeremy Warner. “Five out of six of Britain’s defined benefit pension funds are deep in the red.” Pensions have been “ritually abused with extended contribution holidays” and “repeated Government raids”; stockmarket meltdown in the Noughties saw deficits balloon and “the current ultra-low interest-rate environment has rendered further repair all but impossible”. Proposed solutions – such as forcing companies to increase their contributions – aren’t enough to fix an “essentially broken system”. We need a far more radical approach: “a once and forever cap to the liability” engineered, say, through “a one-off corporate contribution of half the present deficit”. As the investment risk would be transferred to a fund’s members, it wouldn’t be “an easy sell”. But it would at least represent “a firm settlement”, putting an end to the scandals and the now almost “pathological problem of pensions dumping”. John Lewis’s new managing director is not only the first woman to lead the group in its 152-year history but also “the only female leader of a UK department store chain”, says the Daily Mirror. Having joined as a graduate trainee in 1994, working in haberdashery, Nickolds is a John Lewis lifer, steeped in the partnership’s esoteric ways. On that score, there’s no departure from tradition: all previous John Lewis managing directors have been appointed from within. Previously the group’s commercial director, responsible for “innovation” in the product range and the “look and feel” of stores, she replaces Andy Street, who is running as the Tory candidate for the mayor of the West Midlands.