UK 'near the bottom of pension table'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BRITISH pensions are almost the lowest in Europe according to figures released last night, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

The statistics show the state pension in Britain is just 34 per cent of gross earnings in the final year of work, which is lower than any other country and compares with 82 per cent in Spain and 76 per cent in Greece.

With another 14 per cent on top for the State Earnings Related Pensions Scheme or mandatory private pension, the 48 per cent total means Britons are almost bottom of the league table along with pensioners in Denmark and the Netherlands.

The figures were compiled by the independent actuaries, Noble Lowndes, based on an annual survey of pensions and labour law in Europe. They were revealed in a speech to the York Fabian Society by Donald Dewar, Labour's spokesman on social security,

Mr Dewar said: 'Social security ministers gleefully tell the world how well the British pensioner is treated. They get, according to the department, 'one of the best deals in Europe'.

'The claim is that our pensioners have the advantage of one of the most comprehensive welfare safety nets in Europe. The truth is that retired people have seen the basic retirement pension fall steadily as a percentage of earnings.'