Building’s editor is misinformed about why pension funds have failed (23 October, page 3). We didn’t suddenly “start living 10 years longer”. Life expectancy has been rising steadily since Bazalgette fixed London’s sewers and wiped out cholera
Fault lay primarily with the actuaries who should have been keeping up with the statistics during the heady years of equity inflation and not allowing directors of firms to grant themselves or their shareholders pension holidays.
Even though Gordon Brown, the then chancellor, added to the misery by withdrawing tax concessions, the actuaries still did not advise that extra funding would be necessary. So the beleaguered ex-staff of the Construction Council should be looking in these directions if they want answers.
It is informative that the crisis for final salary pensions became evident only when the stock market collapsed, when firms found there was insufficient amounts in their pension funds. By then it was too late. Perhaps they were a too eager to drop final salary schemes. The FTSE is now more or less where it was before the crisis, yet there is no talk of reinstating final salary schemes.