There is growing agreement that our state pension system must be underpinned by proper funding. The only worry about such a reform is the belief that "one generation must pay twice" - once to pay what is due to today's elderly and once more to build up funds for its own retirement. New research shows this fear to be unfounded. The economic gain from a funded system is so large that we could make the transition within a generation and still leave everyone better off.
The future of the welfare state is now firmly at the centre of public debate. Its seeming inability to conquer poverty,despite an annual budget of £100 billion, provokes many to question whether a system designed in the 1940's is up to the challenges of today. The Adam Smith Institute argues that we need a completely different approach - replacing our collectivized state pensions and national insurance scheme with a system of personal lifetime fortune accounts, competitively provided.
The history of the welfare state is a record of failing attempts to curb the costs of over optimistic promises made by politicians. This early welfare state was, like today's contributory and compulsory; but its benefits were neither comprehensive or universal. As we can see today the financial balance was well out of tilt. This report lays out a solution to the problems.
The authors argue that UK welfare reform should combine the best features of successful reforms in other countries, rather than copying a single model. Contrasting the system in Singapore with the Chilean model, they maintain that important lessons can be learnt, Where Chile highlights the significace of private management. Singapore shows the possible flexability of new welfare provision. Both show the importance of moving to personally funded welfare accounts.
The principle of Private Financial Initiate (PFI) represents the best hope for generating funding for capital projects, particularly in Britain’s inadequate transport infrastructure. Dr Eamonn Butler and Allan Stewart MP argue that allowing the private sector to be as innovative as possible with respect too public sector challenges should be the long-term objective of Whitehall, transforming the ways in which the public sector achieves its goals.
The Post Office is not a natural monopoly whose market is difficult to contest. There is no interdependence between the three services: letters, parcels and counters thus they should be separated and privatized within a framework of 3-5 years.
Policy experts from both left and right agree that the welfare state cannot survive without a radical set of reforms. The new fortune Account would provide for retirement savings and lifetime insurance against unemployment and other risks. Positive incentives would reduce fraud, while the extra investment could produce an additional 3% rise in economic growth as experienced in Chile.
New Zealand has been rated the world's most free economy by The Economist due to reforms initiated by the Labour government. The old Crown departments have been split into their policy, regulatory, service-delivery and commercial functions. The government has also become the first to adopt the same kind of rigorous accounting standards that are demanded of commercial firms - every new policy must be subjected to long range and analysis of its costs and impact. Having seen New Zealand as the world's laboratory for public sector reform, there is much we could learn from the Kiwi effect.
The UK state pension should be remodeled on Chile's privatized system which replaced its state pension with compulsory personal savings accounts which have become actuarially sound and secure, and secure, and offer flexible retirement ages, higher rates of return and stimulates economic growth.
The public forest estate no longer serves a public purpose. It occupies 10% of the area of Great Britain and over 15% of the rural area of mainland Scotland. All of this is outside local control. Over the last eighty years the national forest policy has been a complete failure and the Forestry Commission is to blame. There has been no return on investment, no commercial value and worst has failed to deliver on any of its objectives. The authors claim that the public forest estate should be freed from government constraints and protection. The woodlands should be returned gratis to the residents of the communities of which they could then become part.
Miles Saltiel is an investment banker with experience of the privatizations of Eastern Europe. Allan Stewart MP is a former Minister of State at the Scottish Office.