Black Workers and the Local Government Pension Scheme

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2011 Local Government Service Group Conference
24 February 2011
Carried as Amended

Conference is deeply concerned that the attacks by the Coalition Government on the Local Government Pension Scheme will have a devastating effect on UNISON’s low paid and Black members.

Conference notes new research by the Runnymede Trust that finds that Black people are three times as likely as white people to experience poverty in retirement. Black people’s poverty in retirement is directly linked to the discrimination and low levels of pay they experience throughout their working lives in the labour market.

Conference is concerned that the size of the increase in employee contributions will lead to low paid members opting out and leaving schemes. Furthermore, the switch from RPI to CPI will compound the problem of pensioner poverty for vulnerable groups of people and their communities.

Conference notes that over the next few decades, Black communities will contain higher proportions of older people than previously. At the moment there are two million pensioners living in poverty. Conference believes that in the future it is not only likely that this number will increase but that it will also contain a greater proportion of Black people. The changes proposed by the Government will therefore have a disproportionately detrimental effect on Black workers, how they make provision for their retirement and pave the way for a new era of hardship for Black communities.

Cutting staff numbers and freezing pay for Black and predominantly low paid workers means that the contributions going in are going to decrease and the overall gap between pensions out and contributions in is going to increase. Cutting public services and freezing pay will seriously affect the viability of the LGPS, which is currently a viable and fully funded scheme.

Conference calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to work with the National Black Members’ Committee in order to:

1)Highlight the disproportionate effect of the attacks on the Local Government Pension Scheme on Black and other under-represented groups and the consequences for pensioner poverty;

2)Raise awareness of the impact of proposed changes and Black pensioner poverty amongst Black workers and Black communities

3)Report back to the Local Government Conference 2012 on the work that has been done across the service sectors to protect our pensions

4)Support the regions in the development of Black member participation in cross service group campaigning networks

5)Encourage regions to develop increased participation of Black Retired Members in branch and regional Retired Members groups

6)Examine how the community service group can be used to raise awareness amongst service users about the attacks on the LGPS and its potential detrimental impact in terms of age related poverty