‘Gold-plated’ public sector pensions are a media myth

 In more than 30 years at work I have never been a union member, and as a ‘mature’ entrant to local government service, I won’t ever qualify for the ‘rule of 85’ (Personnel Today, 4 April). But even I balk at the way our chancellor is ripping off some of the lowest paid public sector workers.

For me, the burning question is why Gordon Brown can afford to allow these benefits to continue for three million NHS staff, teachers and central government civil servants in an election year, but not for one million local government workers after the election.

It is easy for the press to attack our so-called ‘gold-plated’ pension scheme, but when I compare it to the pension schemes I had in the private sector, it looks like fools’ gold to me. Each year of service earns just one-eightieth of my salary as a pension, but in my private sector employers’ schemes, it tended to be one-sixtieth. Forty years of service in local government earns a 50% pension, but in industry, it would be two-thirds.

Local government employees would have to work 13 years longer to get the same benefit.

Then there is the question of salary. Local government doesn’t pay high salaries to the majority of its staff. An eightieth of a pittance isn’t going to make anyone rich, and retiring at 60 means five years less service and, consequently, a lower pension.

Of course, the chancellor and the rest of the MPs won’t suffer, as they have a pension scheme that the rest of us can only dream of. They are the fat cats of taxpayer-funded pensions, taking the cream, but expecting the rest of us to make do with spilt milk.

Alan Barry
Personnel officer (policy and strategy),
Devon County Council

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