Teacher strike: PM defends controversial pensions plan

David Cameron

David Cameron

First published in News

The Government’s controversial plans to reform public sector pensions are ‘fair’, the Prime Minister insisted, as he told hundreds of thousands of teachers, lecturers and civil servants they are wrong to go on strike.

David Cameron said the changes being proposed for millions of public sector workers were a ‘good deal’, which would secure affordable pensions for decades to come.

He spoke out as the scale of disruption caused by tomorrow’s 24-hour walkout by members of four unions became clear, with thousands of schools, jobcentres, tax offices and courts set to be closed or badly disrupted.

Driving tests will be cancelled and customs checks at ports affected, while picket lines will be mounted outside Government departments.

Mr Cameron, addressing the annual conference of the Local Government Group in Birmingham, said reform was ‘essential’, warning that the pension system was in danger of ‘going broke’ unless action was taken because people were living much longer.

“We just can’t go on as we are. That’s not because, as some people say, public service pensions are ridiculously generous. In fact, around half of public service pensioners receive less than £6,000 a year.

“The reason we can’t go on as we are is because as the baby boomers retire – and thankfully live longer – the pension system is in danger of going broke.

“In the 1970s, when a civil servant, say, retired at 60, they could expect to claim a pension for around 20 years. Today, when they retire at 60, they can expect to claim a pension for nearly 30 years – about a 50% increase on before.

“In 2009, total payments to public service pensioners and their dependants were almost £32 billion – an increase of a third, even after allowing for inflation, compared to 1999.”

The Prime Minister defended the move to increase the pension age as well as contributions, maintaining that the proposals were fair for taxpayers as well as employees.

The balance between what public sector employees paid into their pensions and what the taxpayer contributed was getting “massively out of kilter”, said the Prime Minister.

Civil servants contribute around 1.5% and 3.5% towards their pension, compared with 19% from taxpayers, while taxpayers paid the equivalent of £1,000 per household towards maintaining public sector pensions, which Mr Cameron said was not fair.

Workers will still receive a guaranteed amount in retirement and it was untrue that workers would be stripped of benefits they had already accumulated.

Comments (1)

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1:28pm Wed 29 Jun 11

shy talk says...

The Governments proposed pension changes have already been put in place in one area of the public sector. Pensions for the Armed Services. Pensions use to be linked to the Retail price index (RPI), which stands at 5.20%. Now they are linked to the Consumer price index at 4.50%. This in effect means the service pensioner has had a “wage cut” when calculating the annual pension increase. Service pensioners have no large unions to fight their corner apart from the Forces Pension Society. The following examples show the savings for the government and the loss to service pensioners.

Disabled double amputee 28 year old Corporal £587,000 by age 70
40 year old Sergeant Royal Marines £212,000 by age 85
40 year old Squadron Leader £319,000 by age 85

(Ref: The Forces Pension Society)

So much for the Governments recognition of the Armed Forces Covenant. When considering the unique nature of the armed service men and woman past and present.
The Governments proposed pension changes have already been put in place in one area of the public sector. Pensions for the Armed Services. Pensions use to be linked to the Retail price index (RPI), which stands at 5.20%. Now they are linked to the Consumer price index at 4.50%. This in effect means the service pensioner has had a “wage cut” when calculating the annual pension increase. Service pensioners have no large unions to fight their corner apart from the Forces Pension Society. The following examples show the savings for the government and the loss to service pensioners. Disabled double amputee 28 year old Corporal £587,000 by age 70 40 year old Sergeant Royal Marines £212,000 by age 85 40 year old Squadron Leader £319,000 by age 85 (Ref: The Forces Pension Society) So much for the Governments recognition of the Armed Forces Covenant. When considering the unique nature of the armed service men and woman past and present. shy talk
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