UK pensions among lowest

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The Independent Online
BRITISH state pensions are almost the lowest in the European Community, according to a survey published today.

Ireland is the only country to pay its pensioners less, although even there some people benefit more than in the UK, Labour Research magazine said.

There are two main types of state pension scheme in the EC - one linked to earnings and the other flat rate. Britain operates a mixture of the two.

In broad terms, a UK pensioner on average earnings can at best expect to receive between 35 per cent and 43 per cent of previous earnings as a state pension on retirement, the magazine said.

The figures include the flat-rate payment of pounds 54.15 plus an element of the State Earnings-Related Pension (Serps), which varies according to the individual.

But even the top of this range is well below the state pension entitlement in other EC states, according to the magazine, published by the independent trade union and labour movement.

It said those operating fully earnings-related schemes were Belgium, with a top-rate entitlement of 60 per cent of previous earnings, France (50 per cent), Germany (60 per cent), Greece (60 per cent plus), Italy (up to 80 per cent), Portugal (77 per cent) and Spain (100 per cent).

In Luxembourg, which like Britain has a mixed system, a pensioner with 35 years' work experience could expect at least 62 per cent of earnings.

The position is also better in the Netherlands and Denmark which have flat-rate payments only. An average British single pensioner on full Serps gets about pounds 105 a week, compared with pounds 140 for Dutch pensioners and pounds 109 for Danes.

Britons who get Serps are better off than their counterparts in Ireland, but if they receive just the basic pension, they are worse off. The Irish flat-rate pension for a single person is pounds 70 a week compared with pounds 54.15 in the UK.