"We can't rely on the state pension any more..."
While I was in Redcar recently, asking people for their opinions on saving for a private pension, I was struck that this thought came up again and again - on the street, in shops and elsewhere.
There's a genuine fear that the State Retirement Pension will be downgraded, allowed to wither or otherwise knocked about so it is not worth as much as in the "old days".
It's a worry expressed both by people who are saving and those who expect to rely on the state in retirement.
Where does it come from? I sense it is:
1. People banging on in the news about how to limit annual increases in state pension.
2. Publicity encouraging workers to celebrate being auto-enrolled into a workplace pension scheme. There are multiple warnings about how inadequate the state pension will be.
3. Attacks on other benefits and spending cuts, alongside dire predictions that the country won't be able to afford the bill for pensions in decades to come.
4. Suggestions that the Winter Fuel Payment and free TV licenses could be axed for some.
So despite the "triple lock" (a government guarantee that annual increases will be maintained at a higher level than other benefits) and the promise that we'll get a flat rate pension of £140 or more a week, large numbers of people simply don't trust the government over the state pension.
Clearly some question whether we'll have a universal state pension at all, looking far into the future.
Although that seems far-fetched, perhaps it's a measure of the growing gloom and pessimism about paying for ourselves during retirement and old age.