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2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2003
Carried as Amended

Conference reaffirms the continued right of all our members providing local government services to a decent pension through the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). Conference also calls for an adequate state pension which does not penalise our low paid members through the means testing ‘clawback’ of their LGPS contributions.

Conference notes that the average local government pension is only £3,800. We therefore deplore the current attempt by the Government and the employers to ‘review’ the scheme through a second stocktake and suggest a two-tier scheme, with reduced benefits for part-time workers and temporary staff.

We also oppose proposals in the Pensions Green Paper to raise the retirement age from 50 to 55 and increase the unreduced pension age to 65. This will represent a serious detriment to our members made redundant at 50 and fails to recognise the lack of career opportunities for all up to the age of 65. This Conference expresses disappointment that the decision of the 2002 Local Government Conference that a guide to pensions for UNISON members be produced by the 1 January 2003 has not been implemented. This Conference reaffirms the need for such a guide to be published as soon as possible.

Conference further notes that many of our members working for private contractors and in the voluntary sector are not able to join the LGPS because their employers have not sought ‘admitted body status’ or simply do not want to provide any pension.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s response to the second stocktake of the LGPS which argues that:

1)As deferred pay, the LGPS is a key element of the remuneration package, designed to keep our members out of poverty in retirement

2)A good final salary scheme for all is a minimum requirement, which local government can afford

3)A stakeholder scheme is not an acceptable alternative

4)Neither is a cheaper, career average scheme

5)The LGPS should provide equal access and benefits to unmarried partners, part-time workers and outsourced staff

Conference therefore calls on the SGE to campaign further to:

a)Maintain and extend the current LGPS to all providing local government services

b)Oppose the raising of the retirement and unreduced pension ages without effective measures to ensure protection against age discrimination and promote viable and fruitful careers up to the pension age in local government and outside providers

c)Highlight the scandal of the lost contributions made by our low-paid members who are victims of the means-tested benefits scheme and who therefore subsidise the pensions of higher paid staff

d)Establish changes required to enable them to benefit from the LGPS

e)Ensure that there is maximum possible membership of the scheme through a new take-up campaign

f)Increase the effectiveness of the guidance allowing external contractors ‘admitted body status’ to the LGPS

g)Achieve trade union representation on LGPS fund trusteeship bodies

And to ballot members on industrial action should unacceptable changes to the scheme be proposed or imposed.