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2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2012

Conference notes with concern that the proposed changes to the Local government pensions scheme (LGPS) and the state retirement age are disproportionately impacting on the lives of women.

Women local government workers are already statistically more likely to have lower pensions, primarily due to time taken out of the workplace and part-time working to meet caring responsibilities, with low pay affecting both their lifetime earnings and their pension in retirement, despite the significant gains made to women’s earning ability through equality proofed job evaluation.

Disabled and Black women statistically have lower lifetime earnings, and are therefore even more vulnerable to pensioner poverty. LGBT women have fought long and hard for equality in public sector pensions including pensions for surviving same sex partners and pensions equality for trans workers, and now face seeing those pensions eroded.

In the current economic climate low paid women working in local government have also seen their household income reduced and may now see a stark choice between paying pension contributions or meeting household bills and childcare costs. Many women are already suffering the consequences of being unable to pay into an occupational pension scheme – two thirds of the UK pensioners now living in poverty are women – but research shows that as many as half of all women are still not able to make adequate pension provision for their future.

Meanwhile the accelerated state pension age raise for women has dashed the expectations of working women who will now be forced to work longer. This raises serious questions about the ability of workers in some professions to be able to do their jobs safely and effectively; the lack of opportunities which will be available for younger workers; and the levels of stress and ill health among an ageing workforce.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to:

1)ensure that the concerns about the disproportionate impact on women are taken on board in negotiations on the LGPS;

2)ensure that clear advice is available to members on the benefits of remaining within the LGPS and the implications of leaving;

3)continue to encourage women members to become actively involved in pensions campaigning, and as pension trustees and champions;

4)Raise awareness of the “get campaigning” materials which provide resources and training to assist women in lobbying and campaigning in defence of pensions and other UNISON campaigns.