BLOG: England reaches semis in Pension World Cup

The good news for England fans is that our pension system is considerably better than our football team, or so analysis by Scottish Widows would have you believe.

Personally, my sense of expectation is bordering on bursting point, but that’s by-the-bye. I can't do anything about the fact it's definitely coming home.

If we really want something cheer about as a nation then we should look to pensions. The Development Economics research, which ranked all 32 nations taking part in the Fifa World Cup against an index of 10 categories, had England edged out by Denmark in the semi-finals, placing their pension system as the third best in the tournament.

Of course, it was Australia who came out on top, coming into the tournament clear favourites and with the most experienced auto-enrolment policies – they led the pack by a cool 14 points.

The Socceroos topped the chart on categories including employee and employer contribution rates, proportion of over 65s receiving a pension, population growth statistics an international economic competitiveness.

Scottish Widows retirement expert, Robert Cochran, puts their victory down to one well-established formation.

“There’s a great deal we can learn from how others are preparing for retirement. Our winner Australia, for example, has had an auto-enrolment policy for 25 years - a journey the UK is currently only six years into,” his post-match presser revealed.

“It takes time for these policies to have their desired effect but the impact is clear: today, Australians are among the best funded for retirement in the world.”

Unfortunately, it was the African teams who fared the worst, with Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal bottoming the table, followed closely by the Central and South American nations.

Granted, the absence of the Netherlands and a few Nordic teams may have improved England’s final position, but take nothing away from Southgate’s men.

Perhaps most importantly, England knocked the Germans out in the quarter final. The lads really pulled it out of the bag here, a first tournament victory since 1966 sent them to their first semi-finals since Italia 1990, justice, finally.

England came out of Group G with maximum points, leaving Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in their wake, with the type of confident performance that quite frankly we’re just not used to. Overall, France and Germany tied for fifth and plucky Iceland came in seventh.

What would perhaps be of more value, is if we could compare the English performance to that of four years ago.

Despite this, Cochran does offer some advice on how we can improve during the next World Cup cycle: “The results of the Pensions World Cup supports our call to scrap the £10,000 earnings threshold and make auto-enrolment inclusive for more workers. We’re also calling on the government to reduce the age at which workers are auto-enrolled from 22 to 18 more quickly than it has proposed.”

Although these were both suggestions in the recent review of auto-enrolment, the mid-2020's deadline is about as non-committal as an England penalty, and certainly doesn’t give us a chance to reap the benefits by the time we travel to Qatar in 2022.

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