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Young people will see pension contributions as a further tax

Young people will see pension contributions as a further tax

As a late-era Millennial I am all too aware of the awful traits of my generation. We do not have the grit and determination of the Baby Boomers, who endured frequent power cuts and general strikes. Nor do we have the focused cynicism of Generation X’s upwardly mobile entrepreneurs, who made the most of deregulation to profit financially and personally over the 1990s and early 2000s.

We even lack the clean-cut ideals of the Youtube-reared Generation Z who, if regular surveys are to be believed, do not drink, smoke or invest in unregulated collective investment schemes. No, if you have a problem with the world pin it on my generation and you'll be halfway towards a commission from a right-leaning newspaper. 

There might be a reason for all this. It would be pointless to go over the list of perceived wrongs, but suffice to say very little government policy seems designed to help those who started to become an adult in the past decade or so. Even the policies designed to help younger people feel detached from the reality of actually being able to help people.

Take auto-enrolment as an example. Introduced in 2012 by former pensions minister Steve Webb, the policy was designed to ensure people reach retirement with enough private savings to avoid the poverty trap.

Taken on its early targets, the policy has been a success: more people than ever signed up to a private pension plan through their workplace scheme. However, when we look further at auto-enrolment, problems start to emerge, particularly for the younger generation. Current pensions minister Richard Harrington told a conference earlier this month he wants people to retire with a savings pot of £250,000.

When New Model Adviser® looked at this idea, which you can read about here, it became clear contribution rates would have to be raised considerably for people to get anywhere near the retirement pot Harrington wants for them. 

Plenty in the pensions world will call for this to happen. However, I cannot help but feel it amounts to another tax on the young. Tuition fees, increased by the same government that introduced auto-enrolment, already eat into many graduates’ monthly incomes. Add rent and increasing public transport costs, and there is little appetite to give more to a retirement pot that may not ever see the light of day.

Even the rise in auto-enrolment rates to 8% is going to cause controversy when people receive their first monthly payslip afterwards. Pushing it any further is just as likely to put people off saving as it is to boost retirement pots in the future. 

Still, what would a lazy Millennial like me know?

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