X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

Yes to new roads, no to a pensions raid

19 March 2012

5:04 PM

19 March 2012

5:04 PM

New roads in Britain are badly-needed, but who should bear the costs?
Motorists, says David Cameron — and his speech today is a move in the right direction. No tolls would be slapped on existing roads, so motorists are free to drive as freely as they do now.
But if they want a shortcut, they’ll have to pay for it. What I’m uneasy about is Cameron trying to raid our pension funds to help subsidise this.

There are many ways to raid pension funds — QE is one. The National Association of Pension Funds estimates that a scandalous £130 billion has been wiped from the value of our collective
pensions because Sir Mervyn’s Magic Money Machine is artificially lowering interest rates. This allows Osborne to misrepresent low rates as the applause of global markets for his wisdom. It
radically lowers the interest his government pays on its massive debt. But the NAPF makes clear: this is crippling the value of annuities. Borrowers like me save a fortune — but people now
retiring, and forced to put their pension pot into an annuity (which pays out a fixed amount for life), are seeing that sum up to 20 per cent lower. They’ll be poorer, for life, to allow Osborne to
boast about low rates and bail out Britain’s borrowers.

[Alt-Text]


I say all this because who does Cameron want to finance these toll roads? The pension funds. In his own words, ‘We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private
investment into the national roads network — from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other investors.’ Around 10 to 12 separate pension funds are expected to get involved in the government’s infrastructure projects, and Downing St is
eager for them to contribute as much as they can. But why? I’m all for new, private toll roads — but why can’t they be done on a basis that would attract any investor, without the continuing emphasis on pension funds?

It’s not clear to me why any pension fund manager should invest money in a project which gets lower returns the market average. Nor why the NAPF should do anything to assuage Osborne, whose
‘monetary activism’ will soon have rank him above Brown as Britain’s no.1 pensions raider. Osborne is lucky that quantitative easing are the two most boring words in the English
language — otherwise the pain caused by QE to so many would be getting more coverage than it is.

So, yes to toll roads. No to a dodgy deal with pensions funds to subsidise sub-market schemes. Cameron and Osborne have done enough harm to pensions already.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close