About 18 months ago Morag received a phonecall from a major financial institution. They had friends within the halls of power who had gotten wind of a new plan the government was considering to revolutionize the pension industry.
Research had shown that at the rate we were going the not-too-distant future would find us in deep-doo-doo. We are living longer, saving less (if at all), living in debt – all a recipe for disaster.
Put that together with the fact that if it all went terribly wrong where would everyone be looking to for rescue? They would be looking to Nanny of course, and Nanny’s handbag was going to be empty. I would suspect it was quango’d and masticated to death before it got to Morag’s level but here was what was ‘allegedly’ decided. Before I give you the bare bones of it let me say that this information was from a multi-national, multi-billion dollar/pound/yen/shekel financial institution who was investing quite a chunk of money in something they believed would put them in a good position when the plan was put into action.
The theory was that the government was never going to be able to bail us out when the proverbial hits the fan so novel concept – they were going to show us how to help ourselves!!!! Yes, Labor was finally going to hold up their hands and say ‘let the people learn how to take care of themselves’.
The idea was an education scheme. Money was going to be allocated (the amount I was told was approx £150. per employee) to educate the population on the benefits of savings. The money was going to be paid to employers with the proviso that it had to be spent on the education of employees. It was going to be monitored to be certain that it was spent appropriately and everyone from Mr. Patel at the cornershop with two employees, to a car-manufacturer with 2,000 was going to have to participate in this scheme.
The government was not going to do the educating, that was going to be run by individual accredited concerns. The institution that hired Morag brought me in to do research and come up with ways to make the concept of saving user-friendly.
The average person, Morag included, just sticks their fingers in their ears when anyone mentions saving. The idea was Morag would come in and in a warm, cuddly, non-threatening way (no sniggering!) speak to people about the emotional benefits of saving and the disasters of not saving. Then the accredited fellas with the letters after their names would come in and educate all and sundry to the available options. Then we would all go away, chat amongst ourselves and take charge of our own future – for a change.
OK it might not have worked but if you look at it with a Conservative mindset surely you would believe that when presented with appropriate information geared towards their circumstances that most people would be sensible enough to make the right choices. What we have now is bad for the employee, bad for the employer – and lets face it most of us are either one or the other.
£150. an employee was too high and not necessary. Morag sat down with a calculator and a couple of City whizzkids and we figured out that £25 – £40. was more than enough to do the job properly.
This educational expense could have been gathered in one of three ways. Either employers could have paid the entire amount (which would have been a one time payment and a hell of a lot cheaper than what they now have to do). Or the government could have paid the entire amount (it is also more cost effective than what they’re going to have to do now. Or thirdly they could have split it.
In any event it would have been a hell of a lot cheaper than this nonsense that they have now come up with. No one wants this and there might be three people who think this rubbish will work. They had a choice to facilitate people learning to help themselves and taking control of their own futures but we couldn’t have that now could we. After all what is a Nanny without children on the end of her apronstrings……………..