Pension legislation to go ahead

 


The Government is pressing ahead with legislation to enact its controversial public sector pension reform in the new year, even though an agreement has not been reached with unions to end the bitter dispute.

Ministers made clear they had made a final offer, saying it was a "fair deal" for workers and the taxpayer, which would save billions of pounds in the coming years.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told MPs that "heads of agreements" had been reached with most unions during lengthy negotiations covering local government, NHS, civil service and teaching pension schemes.

But a number of unions said they will not be signing up at this stage, the biggest civil service union took legal advice over claims it was "excluded" from talks, and a last-minute row blew up over the local government scheme.

The GMB warned it would reconsider its position after new conditions had been laid down in a letter from the department run by Local Government secretary Eric Pickles.

Mr Alexander said later that the letter had been withdrawn, adding: "It is not a position that has been agreed. A replacement letter will be issued."

He told the Commons that the changes to pensions delivered the Government's key objectives of amending them to a career average arrangement, leading to public sector staff working longer before they receive a pension and paying higher contributions.

Heads of agreement have been reached with the NHS Pension Scheme, the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, the Teachers' Pension Scheme and the Local Government Pensions Scheme, based on an improved offer made on November 2, said Mr Alexander.

The agreements all deliver on the approach set out in a report by former Labour minister Lord Hutton, with further work on the remaining details set to take place in the new year.

Most unions had agreed to suspend any further industrial action while the final details are resolved and they consult their members, said ministers.

"In all cases the enhanced cost ceilings set on November 2 remain unchanged and no additional money has been made available. These agreements deliver the Government's key objectives on linking normal pension age to the state pension age and moving to career average schemes.

"While most workers will still have to work longer and pay more, most low and middle earners working a full career will receive pension benefits at least as good, if not better, than they get now," said a Government statement.

Mr Alexander said: "We and the unions agree that this is the best outcome that can be achieved through negotiation. For our workforce, it means they will continue to receive the best quality pensions available in this country. This is a proper reward for a lifetime's commitment to serving the public.

"These agreements deliver the Government's key objectives in full, and do so with no new money since our November offer. These reforms will save the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds over the next few decades and significantly improve the long-term fiscal sustainability of this country.

"This is a fair deal for public service workers, an affordable deal for the taxpayer, and a good deal for the country."

The Public and Commercial Services union said it was taking legal advice over being "excluded" from the civil service talks, adding that the Government had a legal duty to include all unions under the 2010 Superannuation Act.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the Government had fulfilled its obligations by holding months of talks.

The future of the teachers' pension scheme remained unclear after some unions agreed to take the Government's offer to their members and others held off.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT), the NASUWT, the University and College Union (UCU) and Welsh teaching union UCAC all confirmed that they will not be signing up at this stage.

But the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said they will take the revised proposals to their members, with the latter stressing that there is no deal yet.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: "While we acknowledge that the Government clearly states that this is their final offer, and whilst it is a modest improvement on their original proposals, we have not accepted it. Along with the other health unions, we agreed that this was the best that could be achieved by negotiation at this stage. We told the Government that we will consult our members on the offer."

Mr Alexander said legislation would now be drafted ahead of a Bill being introduced in the next session of Parliament.

:: Speaking during a pre-Christmas visit to troops in Afghanistan, Prime Minister David Cameron said the Armed Forces had received a specific exemption from higher pension contributions, adding: "I'm pleased to see some of the trade unions look like they have settled in terms of the public sector."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families