- 2004 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 9 June 2004
This Conference condemns the Government for its attempts to attack the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). This scheme offers hundreds of thousands of workers in local councils and in other related public services the chance of a decent pension in retirement
This Conference notes with concern that, following consultations with UNISON and other interested parties including the TUC, there are proposals to introduce changes detrimental to members.
The proposed changes from April 2005 include:
1)The removal of the 85 year rule for new scheme members and its phasing out for existing members
2)Raising the earliest age at which LGPS benefits may be paid, other than on the grounds of ill-health from 50 to 55
3)Raising the retirement age from 60 to 65
4)No automatic payment of unreduced LGPS benefits arises where a member who has attained age 55 retires from employment on redundancy grounds
The current situation where employers pay an average contribution which is about double the employee contribution is an entirely reasonable arrangement. There is no hard evidence that there is an immediate cash crisis in the LGPS funds. Indeed, the recent partial recovery of the stock market means that many fund managers who were anticipating problems are now reassured. Certainly, no panic changes can be justified in advance of the actuaries’ revaluation due to be announced later this year.
In these circumstances, Conference welcomes the strong TUC opposition to proposed changes to the scheme which would have the effect of raising employee contributions and cutting and delaying benefits. We condemn proposals to raise the minimum age at which benefits can be paid to 55 and to increase the age at which unreduced pensions can be paid to 65. We also reject any suggestion of increasing the employee contribution while benefits are being cut. We should continue to argue strongly that the best way to strengthen the scheme is to ensure that more eligible employees join it by making it more attractive to all staff, especially the lower paid, and by ending the remaining areas of discrimination against active and retired members. This would help employers to improve their recruitment and retention performance and thus tackle staff shortages.
We therefore call on the Service Group Executive, on regions and on branches:
1)To urge employers that they should instruct their national representative bodies to object to any new Regulations which damage the scheme.
2)To campaign to inform members (and non-members) about the threat to their pension entitlement and ask them to write to councillors and MPs
3)To respond vigorously to any attack on the cost or scope of the scheme and to challenge any spurious figures about the effect of decent pensions on council tax levels
4)To urge the employers and the government to improve the scheme so as to end its discriminatory elements including discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and marital status”.
5)To persuade scheme providers to mount campaigns to encourage those employees who have not joined the scheme to consider the advantages of doing so.
6)Organise industrial action in accordance with the procedures in defence of the existing scheme.