Sunday, February 20, 2011

LGPS – mounting opposition to increased contributions

I was doubtful that the Coalition was retreating on public sector pensions when it was announced that the consultation period for the 3% pensions levy on most public sector workers would end three months later than previously planned. However, I think there is now a real chance that the Coalition may U-turn on the planned increase in employee contributions Local Government Pension Scheme.

There is mounting opposition to the suggestion that LGPS members should pay an extra 1% each year from 2012 for three years. First a group of London pension “administering authorities”. Then the Conservative leader of the Local Government Association. These concerns are on top of and different from the unions’ resistance.

The new opposition are concerned about the effect of the 3% pensions levy on the sustainability of the LGPS if it triggers a “mass opt-out” and spiralling contributions as the contributing membership shrinks.

The alternative advocated by some of these opponents is a paring back of pension entitlements within LGPS. There case makes a lot of sense. However, the savings will be over decades – George Osborne’s Spending Review was looking for about £3billion for the LGPS employers and the rest of the public sector by 2015. How can that gap be filled if the Coalition does another full or partial U-turn?


John Prior said...

Unlike the other main schemes, the LGPS is funded, so reducing benefits could lead to savings being made pretty quickly. This contrasts with the civil service scheme and the NHS scheme, where increasing employee contributions is the only way of making significant savings in the short term.

Bob Deed said...

Could the employee contributions be increased for the unfunded schemes but not the LGPS? Is that politically feasible?

Reducing LGPS benefits would not resolve the problem of the accumulated shortfalls.