Newspaper headlines: State pension retirement age and 'national offer day'

The front pages almost resemble a bidding war over the grand old age many of us will have to reach before becoming eligible for the state pension.

"Be ready to work into your 70s" is the Guardian's warning to those currently aged under 55. "Now it's work to 75," reckons the Daily Mirror, while the Sun tops the lot with: "Work till you're 81."

"Young Brits face having to work until they drop," is the latter's warning on an inside page, under the headline: "Die and retiring." It quotes former Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb saying: "People are going to be working way beyond the age they ever thought, into their late 70s or even in some cases 80s if fit enough."

The Mirror describes the "retirement rage" of Labour MPs, who point out that one in seven of the people who retired last year are relying solely on state pensions. The headlines were prompted by the announcement of a review of the state pension by former Confederation of British Industry chief John Cridland.

And the Daily Mail examines some of the nuances of his work which, it says, will examine whether manual workers might be allowed to receive their pension earlier than office workers to reflect their life expectancy. "The study will look at whether the state pension age could be replaced by an age range, allowing some people to retire relatively early on a lower pension, while others stay working for longer in return for a more generous pension a few years later. Those forced out of the workplace early by medical problems could qualify for a lower 'ill-health pension'."

For the Daily Express, the review is a worrying development, in light of reports that Chancellor George Osborne may be planning a "raid" on pensions savings. "If the constant attacks on our pensions continue fewer and fewer people will get the chance to have any retirement at all," it says.


Eye-catching headlines

  • "For sale, house trapped in the 70s" - A detached Glasgow home - unchanged since it was built 40 years ago - is on the market, complete with formica worktops, an avocado bathroom suite and pine-clad walls, says the Daily Express
  • "Permission to peek, sir?" - "kinky doggers are deploying their privates" in a Yorkshire town that provided the location for the new Dad's Army film, says the Sun
  • "It's a 'no, no, no' to female Viagra" - the New Day offers its take on research suggesting Flibanserin - a drug said to boost the libido of pre-menopausal women - is "little more than a placebo"
  • "Clickety split" - couples will soon be able to divorce with "just a tap on the screen of their laptop or smartphone", reports the Daily Star

Schools out

The annual festival of resentment that has become known as "national offer day" makes headlines, with the Guardian reporting that tens of thousands of children have failed to get into their first choice of secondary school. "Some parents living in areas of high demand complained that their children could not get into schools that were a few hundred metres away from their homes," it says.

However, the same paper reports an "end to flower power" in the process. The British Humanist Association and Fair Admissions Campaign claim that "admissions arrangements that prioritise children whose parents help with flower arranging, cleaning or maintenance at church" had been eradicated from English schools, it says.

The Independent's Jane Merrick writes that we should ignore the "disingenuous" claim from ministers that 95% of families will have received a place at one of their top three choices of school. "In many cases there are not three good schools locally where you would want to send your child," she says, adding that the 84% of families granted their first choice is the relevant statistic.

Image copyright PA

"It is depressing to hear people such as Bernadette John, of the Good Schools Guide, who told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday morning that families who are not happy with their offer could move to other parts of the country, as if this were choosing a different place to go on holiday," she adds.

For those who missed out on their first choice, the Sun offers a nine-point guide on the process of challenging the decision. Its advice to parents includes: "Give reasons why your child should be admitted. These could include: it is a local school, you follow its ethos, family members go there, it specifically caters for your child's needs or abilities, difficulty of travelling to your allocated school.

"Write down what you want to say at your appeal hearing and take any evidence or supporting documents with you," it adds.


Adolescent paranoia?

The publication of the bill dubbed the "Snooper's Charter" provokes much comment. The Guardian sees a triumph for surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden. "It involves the British security state coming clean about the extraordinary existing facility to snoop that he exposed, spelling the powers out in statute for the first time."

Legislation announced by Home Secretary Theresa May will force internet service providers to store for 12 months people's internet browsing records - "which could include a deeply private browse of, say, the Marie Stopes or Gamblers Anonymous site", says the Guardian. When combined with data connectivity acquired by "cars, watches and even white goods", this will allow security agencies to build up "exhaustive logbooks on the lives of others", the paper adds.

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The Sun is unsympathetic to the argument, saying: "Britain must grow out of its adolescent paranoia about our intelligence agencies' spying powers and let them do their job." However, the paper fears plans to give "ordinary cops" hacking powers could lead to abuse of process.

"Most people are prepared to make a trade-off of their privacy in return for enhanced security," says the Telegraph. However, like many papers it is less keen on the extension of police powers to access browsing records and hack into people's phones. "People believe surveillance should be directed at terrorists and it is their general and arbitrary use that most damages public trust," its editorial adds.

"This is too much power, with too little scrutiny, in the hands of people with too poor a track record of trust," argues the Times. "The home secretary... should not have jeopardised the vital preservation of national security by packaging it alongside new domestic powers that are almost certain to be abused."

"A balance must be struck between our liberty and the powers of police forces and spooks to turn Big Brother," agrees the Mirror. "MPs must examine closely May's bid to allow the police to hack into phones and laptops. The breach of privacy must fit the crime."


What the commentators say

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Media captionMail on Sunday City editor Simon Watkins joins Dawn Alford, deputy editor of the New Day, to review the papers for the BBC News Channel.

'Bag lady' returns

Columnists are still discussing the "Bag Lady" - British costume designer Jenny Beavan - for repeating her Baftas trick of dressing down in jeans and faux-leather jacket at this week's Oscars. "To do that in Britain is one thing," says the Mail's Sarah Vine. "But to do it at the Oscars in Los Angeles, where even tramps have capped teeth, is positively heroic. And deeply, brilliantly, thrillingly subversive."

"A woman who looks her age, who is at the top of her game, who wears what she feels comfortable in is a truly beautiful thing," writes Suzanne Moore, in the Mirror.

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Dreda Say Mitchell, writing in the Guardian is baffled by the shocked reaction of some ceremony guests to Beavan's low-key attire. "They work in an industry where sticking to the rules, doing what everyone else does and playing it safe are supposed to be a no-no...Traditionally this has been embodied by stars who are 'difficult' to work with, or driving fast cars. But if you want someone who can think outside the box and truly shock an audience to its core, Beavan has given us a whole new definition."

There is no such praise from Ann Widdecombe, however. She writes in the Express: "She could have worn evening trousers instead of jeans and a glittery or velvet jacket. But she plainly could not be bothered which is rude to her hosts and her fellow guests, self-absorbed and childish."

So there.


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