Death of Retirement

Held on Monday, September 28


  • Prof Les Mayhew (Cass Business School)

  • John Lawson (Aviva)

  • John Ralfe (John Ralfe Consulting)

  • Gemma Tetlow (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Daniela Silcock (Pensions Policy Institute)

  • Jane Fuller (CSFI/PIC Pensions Fellow)



Jane Fuller, co-director of the CSFI and author of The Death of Retirement, talks to Gemma Tetlow (IFS), John Lawson (Aviva), Daniela Silcock (Pensions Policy Institute) and John Ralfe (John Ralfe Consulting) following the Centre's September 28 round-table on pensions reform.



When the CSFI’s pensions programme was launched in late 2013, with the generous support of Pension Insurance Corporation, I had – and still have – two guiding beliefs. The first is that the twentieth century approach to pensions is unaffordable: witness huge deficits in public and private sector defined benefit schemes, with their open-ended income promises.  This has prompted an irreversible switch towards individual saving for retirement in “defined contribution” (DC) schemes, which provide funds for later life.

The second is that the radical reforms introduced by the 2010-15 coalition government established the right principles: a rising retirement age; flat-rate state pension; auto-enrolment into long-term saving schemes; flexible access to invested funds. The key is motivation to save, and the contributions of both employer and government (through tax incentives) are crucial to this. That is why the current taxation model, which exempts contributions and investment returns from tax (but taxes income withdrawn), focuses on upfront boosters. Locking away money for decades is different from saving for a rainy day or a holiday in an ISA.

The report is entitled The Death of Retirement because retirement is no longer a one-off event. We face a long transition from full-time work to ceasing to work. Public policy provides a safety net but, beyond that, it increasingly expects individuals to help themselves.

To help us debate these issues, we are delighted to welcome:

  • Les Mayhew, Professor of Statistics at Cass Business School, an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Actuaries and a member of the Royal Economic Society. His research interests include health, pensions and long term care. 
  • John Lawson, head of financial research at Aviva (and, before that, head of policy for retirement solutions). Before joining Aviva, he served as head of pensions policy at Standard Life.
  • John Ralfe, an independent consultant, who previously served as head of corporate finance at Boots. He advised the Accounting Standards Board on FRS17 and is a regular media contributor, including to the FT and BBC Today Programme.
  • Gemma Tetlow, who directs the IFS’ programme on pensions, savings and public finances. Her most recent report on the subject is Where next for pensioner living standards?
  • Daniela Silcock, head of policy research at the Pensions Policy Institute, where she has led on projects looking at automatic enrolment and state pension reform (among other things). Daniela also served as a pension specialist at the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee for two years during the Coalition government.