Early retirement a beef for Beefeaters

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The Independent Online
One of Britain's most famous institutions and a feature of every tourist holiday snap has found itself under fire - the Beefeaters at the Tower of London are to be pensioned off early to save money.

The 38 Yeoman Warders have been told they must retire at 60 instead of 65, which some say will plunge them into serious financial difficulties. The news was broken to the old soldiers last month by the Historic Royal Palaces Agency, a part of Virginia Bottomley's Department of National Heritage. In line with the department's policy, the agency is forcing through a retirement age of 60.

Now some of the Beefeaters, former soldiers or airmen with at least 22 years' unblemished service, are concerned that they will be evicted from their cheap accommodation within the Tower five years early and with a smaller pension than expected.

One Yeoman Warder said: "We feel betrayed. We pride ourselves on our loyalty but that has to work both ways. The men are very upset." Some of the pounds 10,500-a-year Beefeaters plan to write to MPs asking for help. One says: "I will be prematurely evicted from my home at the Tower. I believe that the only reason for introducing these changes now is to reduce the number of staff employed on current terms and conditions so that new staff can be engaged on lower terms."

David Beeton, chief executive of the Historic Royal Palaces Agency, confirmed that the Beefeaters and all other staff would be made to retire at 60 in line with government policy. But he denied that numbers would be cut.

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