Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hutton's pensions report: The Deal and the reaction

This morning Lord Hutton of Furness published his report in to public sector pension including his Deal for public service workers and taxpayers (see above). With 200 pages of recommendations and analysis but few surprises, the report arrived in time for the Radio Four Today programme.

On Today Dave Prentis of Unison responded to the report in very reasonable terms. It appeared that he was more concerned about the hikes in employee pension contributions starting in 2012 than the actual report. He did express concern that the government might cherry pick the report at the expense of public sector workers.

(I have blogged a few times about the 3% pension levy and its potential implications for the local government pension scheme. The 3% levy followed Hutton’s interim report which pointed out that increased contributions allowed short-term savings. In the interim and the final report Hutton deftly handed over the issue of contribution rates over to the government.)

There is a more militant and wider-ranging response from the Public and Commercial Services union. PCS have warned: “any increase to contributions and the pension age for civil and public servants would be an unfair and unnecessary tax on working in the public sector and will be fiercely opposed”. (Of course, the threat of less take home pay in just over 12 months is more potent in getting the brothers and sisters out and around the picket line brazier than the prospect of a year or two or three of work possibly several decades hence.)

It does look likely that there will be co-ordinated strikes over pensions - perhaps even a million strong strike. However, I suspect that Hutton is playing almost a cameo role.

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