BMA questions public service pensions offer
Thursday, 3 November 2011
The BMA has said that yesterday’s Government announcement of its latest offer to public service workers on their pensions “appears to be a step in the right direction” but warns that it still leaves people working for up to 8 years longer, and paying far more in contributions.
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury, said: “Public service workers provide a valuable service and deserve good pensions in retirement. But people are living longer, so public service pension reform is inevitable.
“We’ve listened to public service workers and come up with a deal that’s fair and affordable. The lowest paid and people ten years off retirement will be protected – and pensions will still be among the very best available,” he claimed.
The Treasury’s own statement on the offer acknowledged that “most workers will still have to work longer and pay more [but] the pension that most low and middle earners working a full career will receive pension benefits at least as good, if not better, than they get now.”
The new offer means that public service workers who are within 10 years of pension age by 1 April 2012 – about one million people – “will see no change in when they can retire nor any decrease in the pension they receive at their normal pension age”, said the Treasury.
BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum (pictured) issued a lukewarm response to the announcement. He said: “It’s positive that the government has belatedly shown some response to the strength of feeling against its plans. We have made clear to them that their original proposals were unacceptable to our members.
“What has been set out today appears to be a step in the right direction. However, it remains the case that under these plans, NHS staff will work longer and pay more, despite the fact that their pension scheme was overhauled only three years ago, and is already sustainable in the long term.
“The government’s claim that many workers will get a better deal is questionable when you take into account that they will have to work for up to eight additional years, and pay a huge amount more in contributions.
“Along with our colleagues in the other health unions, we will carefully consider the detail of this proposal, and seek the feedback of our members.”