Defending and Reforming the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)

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2010 Police and Justice Service Group Conference
24 June 2010

Conference is alarmed by the ongoing attacks on the LGPS from politicians, local councils, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the CBI, the Institute of Directors and others. Conference also notes with concern the government’s ‘cap and share’ proposals for cost-sharing within the LGPS. Conference welcomes the response by UNISON and the LGPS Trade Union Side and the materials produced to bust the myths surrounding our pension scheme.

Conference recognises that because of increasing life expectancy, there will be ongoing serious cost pressures on the scheme. The Conservative-dominated Local Government Association and Local Government Employers will push to cut employer contributions, conveniently forgetting the years when they reduced their contributions and some took contribution holidays.

Conference has consistently rebutted the idea that our members have a ‘gold plated’ pension. The average pension is improving because of our success in maintaining an ongoing high quality pension scheme, but the average for women is still only £2,700 – only just enough to keep many members above the threshold for means tested benefits. Far from being ‘fat cats’, many now recognise that our low paid, women, part-time workers and others on low pay struggle to make ends meet – at work and in retirement.

Conference notes that the LGPS is in the process of going through its 3-year valuation. This started in April 2010 in England and Wales and will start in Scotland in April 2011. The results could be better than feared a couple of years ago because of:

1)The partial recovery of the Stock Market and high yields on bonds and gilts

2)Changes that followed UNISON’s campaign to ensure the financial security of the LGPS, which will require funds to plan to meet the costs of the scheme over many years and in future not be panicked by short to medium term changes in fund values

Conference expresses its strong commitment to retaining a viable and affordable LGPS and calls on the Police and Justice Service Group Executive to:

a)Further develop a high profile campaign to save and improve the LGPS, to include all branches and activists, including industrial action in accordance with UNISON’s rules where necessary;

b)Engage with all Service Groups with members in the LGPS and the Service Group Liaison Committee in developing that campaign;

c)Liaise with other Service Groups and unions to work together to defend all public service pension schemes;

d)Continue to argue for a fair basis for sharing any increase in scheme costs that maintains future benefits at a viable level and does not increase the cost of member contributions to unaffordable levels

e)Continue to promote Admitted Body Status to enable new staff taken on to do the same work after transfer to join the LGPS alongside members transferred to private contractors;

f)Campaign for the benefit structure to be reformed to benefit the low paid, while ensuring any proposals will protect all members and not reduce benefits;

g)Call for the rationalisation of the number of funds within a realistic timetable, to save fund management fees without reducing the quality of scheme administration;

h)Develop strategies to progress flexible retirement.