Pensions Past Present and Future

29 February 2016 - Posted by ebaxter

Pensions: Past, Present and Future

Pensions, and saving for them, can be confusing. Nowadays, some financial security in old age is guaranteed, even if it is small. However, our ancestors did not have access to this guarantee, which we now consider a basic human right.

We show you how pensions have transformed through the ages, and our predictions for the future of pensions.

The first pensions


Pensions for naval officers in England were introduced. Records of these are kept at Greenwich.


Prior to the changes in the 1830s, the ‘aged poor’ had been historically cared for by parish until Poor Law Amendment Act. Now they were faced with the workhouse and old age became feared. Families were expected to care for their elderly members, as there was no financial security once you stopped working.


Police Officers, Nurses, Teachers and Civil Servants were set up in pension schemes.


Pension schemes were introduced by Cadbury and Rowntree’s for their employees. These two confectionary companies were renowned for the quality of care they gave to their employees.

Pensions as a right


The Liberal government introduced the first old age pensions. Labouring men 70 years onwards could claim, but this system was means tested and paid out a very small amount per week. Despite these restrictions, it was a positive step to tackling poverty and alleviated the fear of old age.


Contributory Pensions Act for widows and the elderly was introduced for those earning up to £250 a year.


Women and widows were included in the Old Age Pensions scheme.



National Insurance is introduced, guaranteeing a contributory state pension for all people.


The Thatcherite government introduced reforms to pensions. Social Security Act, employees could refuse to partake in their employer’s pension scheme and could leave it if they wished, seeking alternatives.


The Maxwell scandal occurs. 32,000 people lost more than £400 million collectively when Robert Maxwell stole this from pension scheme, this led to 1995 reform where pensions were more regulated.


Income support is introduced for poorest pensioners.

Modern day


Auto-enrolment pension schemes for workplaces introduced, which will come into force this year.

2016 and beyond

What will the future hold for our pensions? Here are our predictions:

  • Women may be hit harder than men. The 1925 act enabling women to claim pensions based on their husbands contributions will end this year, and the ages have been equalised between men and women when it comes to claiming pensions. Women still earn less on average, and were not adequately informed of the changes, so despite the age equalisation sounding fair, it could actually be crippling.
  • Tax cuts will make a lot of families worse-off, even though there will be a reliable pension scheme.
  • Even if you employ one person, you will be enrolled in the new workplace pension scheme. Harsh fines exist for anyone who doesn’t comply.
  • Flexibly access pension pots with no limits to the amount withdrawn.
  • Pension pots can now be left to anyone and passed through the generations sometimes tax free.
  • The government is considering changes to the way tax relief is given to be revealed in the budget.
  • Getting the correct advice is more important now than ever given the new freedoms.
  • The amount we are allowed to invest over our lifetime into pensions to be reduced to £1m.