Leading article: Public sector employees will have to pay more

Share
Related Topics

Public sector pensions were always going to be one of the hottest potatoes the Government had to handle, which is why they were farmed out to a review – and not just any review, but one headed by a former Labour minister, John Hutton. Now the (Conservative) chair of the Local Government Association, and a (Labour) member of the LGA executive have sent a joint warning to the Chancellor about increasing pension contributions for local government employees. They contend that a combination of staff cuts and low-paid workers deciding to opt out could make the scheme as a whole unviable, bringing a higher bill for all tax-payers as retired employees were thrown back on means-tested benefits.

Their argument can be understood, but it should not be accepted without challenge. Public sector employees have been well served by their pension scheme, which provides higher benefits for lower contributions than most private-sector schemes – especially now that most private-sector final salary schemes have closed. When public-sector workers were paid less than their private-sector counterparts, a case could be made for this; but that is no longer so either. Unless pensions are to become even more socially divisive than they currently are, public-sector employees are going to have to contribute more.

The question should be how this can be done. Trade unions insist that, because many in the public sector are relatively low-paid, their pensions are minimal. But the same applies in the private sector. It is no justification for retaining the status quo. The case has to be made that, even with higher contributions, public-sector pensions will remain excellent value and more secure than many private schemes. The Government must also ensure that – as with work and the Universal Credit – saving into a pension will always pay. This may not be easy if inflation continues to rise.

Given the very high pay of many senior local authority executives, there could also be a case for levying much higher contributions at the top, so as to moderate the rise further down. On this, if it seriously believes there is a problem, perhaps the LGA executive might invite the trade unions to make common cause.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Benedict Cumberbatch attends a special screening of his latest film The Imitation Game  

Benedict Cumberbatch race row: What's the actual difference between 'coloured' and 'person of colour'?

Matthew Norman
Pressure is growing on Chris Grayling to abandon the Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its prisons (Getty)  

What in sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Justice Secretary?

Matthew Norman
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore