Lord Turner, author of the Pension Commission's report into the state of UK retirement provision, has admitted that he has been taken aback by the scale of the controversy that has arisen since its publication.
The Turner Report has seemingly reopened the simmering dispute between Prime Minister Tony Blair and chancellor Gordon Brown, with the latter apparently dismissing the Turner findings as too costly even before they were published publicly.
I have been surprised by the sheer intensity of the discussion, Lord Turner told the Daily Telegraph newspaper. This is an important issue of public policy but it’s not war – it’s not Aids in Africa.
Lord Turner’s advocacy of a restoration of the link between the state pension and earnings, coupled with a reduction in means testing, has been the focus of much of the controversy. Mr Brown is said to feel that these areas are the Treasury’s domain and therefore ‘off limits’ for Turner.
Beyond Whitehall however, many observers feel that the recommended raising of the retirement age to 68 by 2050 could prove more contentious – especially among lower earning employees. However Lord Turner suggested that such concerns would be offset by people acknowledging the lengthening in average life expectancy.
This has been in the too-difficult camp for a long time, but people will be receptive when they understand how long they’re going to live, he told the BBC.