I’VE been reading about the state pension. Not that I understand it – I never have. In the past, I have read leaflets and logged onto websites that are supposed to explain pension rates and how they are calculated but they were confusing. They still are.

What I’ve gleaned from recent reports is that the Government is to introduce a new flat rate state pension of £144 a week.

A better basic state pension is necessary because many people, outside the public sector workforce who get public sector pensions, do not have company pensions or savings or a stock portfolio or a pension pot. Many, when they reach retirement age, will not even have a pot to ... well, make porridge in.

Not that £144 a week is overly generous.

Especially as it will not be paid until 2017 and the Institute of Fiscal Studies says the poverty line for a single person right now is £165 a week.

To be able to pay even this new rate, however, workers will have to contribute more and work beyond the current retirement age of 65. Not surprisingly, this is not expected to be popular. But simple mathematics show it is essential for the pension system to change and young people to start saving now so that, in 40 or 50 years time, they will at least have a pot.

Not that young people want to think about pensions which are, after all, for old folk. Why should they worry? What they don’t yet realise is that everybody gets old. And it happens so quickly, it takes your breath away.

In fact, and here is the crux of the problem, more people are getting old than ever before.

Back when the state pension was first paid, few lived to claim it. That was in 1909 and you had to be over 70 and have an income of less than £21 10s a year. All they got was five shillings a week – about £21 in today’s money.

Half a million qualified from a population of 45 million.

Today 9.2 million people in England and Wales are over the age of 65 in a population of 56 million. It doesn’t take Einstein to work out the dynamics have changed.

That’s a lot of pension for the state to pay and millions more are due to retire in the next few years. Today’s average retirement lasts 25 years and will get longer. A third of all of today’s babies will live to be 100.

So this problem is not going to get any easier. Especially with a UK workforce of only 29 million.

We have to be logical about what the country can afford and how we can fund better pensions. Personally, I’m 124 years old and still working. (Well, some days it seems like 124). I enjoy what I do but, to many people, what I do is not work.

I see the sense in working beyond 65 but the manual nature of some jobs means that bodies wear out. Some will not be able to work into old age. And how can older people be expected to find jobs to aid a poor pension when employment generally is in such a parlous state?

Today’s pensioners continue to face a financial balancing act and those in work need to be realistic about pension schemes and expectations and plan ahead.

Passing that plateau of 60 need not be a daunting event. It is not downhill all the way. It can be a vital, exciting and vastly enjoyable period.

One that today’s younger generations can look forward to, as long as they take note now, do not rely solely on the state, and go looking for a pot.

As one pension expert said: “The message is now very simple: if you want more than £7,500 a year to live on in retirement, you need to start saving”.