Most public sector workers ignorant about their pensions

Less than a third of public sector workers know the value of their final pension.

That’s one finding of research by pension advisory and management specialist Hymans Robertson into public sector employees’ attitudes towards pensions and job security.

It found that just 29.7% of 1,809 public sector workers polled said they knew the value of their final pension. One-third of those asked said they were unhappy with the information they received on their pension schemes, rising to 42% for those in the NHS.

The survey also found that four out of five of those polled said they would consider working beyond normal retirement age, with 27% of those in their late 50s and early 60s saying they would think about working until they were 70 to safeguard their retirement income.

Alison Murray, partner at Hymans Robertson, said: “There is certainly an over-reliance in the public sector on pensions as the only source of retirement income. This is concerning given very low levels of average pensions in some cases, from the Local Government Scheme in particular.

“It is also worrying to note that 30% of those public sector workers surveyed are not members of any public sector scheme, with the highest proportion of non-members drawn from the least wealthy – 46% of respondents with household assets of less than £20,000 said they were not a member of a public sector scheme.”

The research also found that:

  • 63% of public sector workers will rely on their pensions as their main source of retirement income

  • 31% are worried about redundancy

  • 46% of local government respondents, and 50% in the fire service, said they chose the public sector for job security

  • 32% of those polled said they’d consider moving to the private sector if their benefits were cut

  • 21% said they joined the public sector because of better pension provision

  • 31% of respondents in the Civil Service cited job security as the main reason for joining.

The results prompted John Wright, head of public sector consulting at Hymans Robertson, to call for better communication by public sector employers of the benefits they provide.

“Employers should consider greater engagement with trade unions and other representative bodies in developing workshops and focus groups of workers,” he said. “Members need not only to have a clearer picture of their totals reward in terms of benefits they receive, but they must be encouraged to value their benefits.”

Hymans Robertson polled 1,809 public sector workers and pensioners through an online questionnaire in April 2009.

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