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The State Pension

The first thing we should say is that the modern State Pension isn’t technically a pension at all. In fact, as far as the UK government is concerned, the State Pension is instead a “contribution-based benefit”, the size of which depends on your National Insurance (NI) contribution history.

Perhaps surprisingly, the specific purpose of the State Pension isn’t officially described. It is generally accepted, however, that it has a dual purpose to both alleviate poverty in retirement (with means-tested pension credit also available as a top up), and to provide a foundation income that you can build on with your own pension / savings or other income means.

Principles of the State Pension

  • It is a state benefit that is determined by your National Insurance contribution history
  • It is paid for by the government from the country’s central funds (generally the tax take) and represents more than 10% of public spending
  • The government can (and often does) change the rules around how much the State Pension is worth, who will get it and when
  • It is a politically sensitive subject so governments are wary of tinkering with it unnecessarily
  • The pension freedoms do not apply to the State Pension. Remember it is technically a ‘benefit’
State Pension Information

How old is the State Pension?

The modern universal basic State Pension was introduced way back in 1948 following the 1946 National Insurance Act. Whilst numerous changes have been made to the rules and benefit calculations since then, little has really changed to the overall set-up and the basic principles remain the same to this day.

Before that, a more limited “old age” pension had been in place since 1908. It originally paid you just five shillings a week and was only available to men, who had to be over the age of 70. Bear in mind that average life expectancy was just 47 at the time…

To find out more about the State Pension, including how much it is worth and when you can expect to receive it, follow the links below.

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