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Wednesday 11 July 2012

UNISON response to Taxpayers' Alliance pensions nonsense

"Financially illiterate drivel aimed at advancing a political agenda to make pensioners poorer" says public services union

UNISON, Scotland largest union in Scotland’s public services, is today calling on the so-called Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA), to get its facts straight after the shady right-wing, low-tax pressure group attacked local government pensions. Again.

Payments into the Local Government Pension Scheme in Scotland last year were £299.944 million MORE than being paid out to pensioners. This inconvenient fact is ignored by the self styled think tank - who likewise seem not to have noticed a connection between the cuts in council workforce that that they have been urging and decline in local government workers paying in to the pension schemes

The tax dodgers' alliance report points out the LGPS like is maturing with an increasing number of pensioners. What they fail to mention is that this is the case with almost all pension funds in the UK.

Similarly unmentioned are;

· That the pension funds enjoy an enormous income from investment – and so aren’t entirely reliant on contributions from members and employers

· That a recent (2011) actuarial valuation of the Local Government Pension Scheme Scotland was very positive

· The LGPS Scotland is currently taking in almost £300 million per year more than it is paying out.

· Even in the event that the scheme was felt to be under pressure - a cost sharing agreement is in place.

· Just 5p in every £1 paid in council tax goes towards pensions. Councils get only 25% of their revenue from council tax, 75% comes from other sources, including business rates and local government grants.

· The numbers in the tax Dodgers Alliance report would only begin to make sense if everyone in local government decided to retire on the same day - a social, political and actuarial absurdity.

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary, said:

"This right-wing pressure group never lets facts get in the way of attacking public services and the people that deliver them. This is financially illiterate drivel. The TPA are simply out of touch with reality.

Pensions for local government are an affordable way of people saving for their retirement - and the results of that are modest enough the average pensions for council workers in Scotland is just £4,000 a year, dropping to just £2,800 for women.

We need to bring private sector pensions up to a decent level, not pull public sector pensions down - two thirds of employees do not get a single penny in contributions from their employers towards their pensions. The government's plans for auto-enrolment will not go far enough to keep people off means tested benefits.”


Notes to editors

On Pension fund suprpluses in Scotland see

UNISON Scotland pensions pages

For further comment please contact
Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, UNISON 07939 143355
Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Bargaining UNISON Scotland 0795 812 2409
Stephen Low, Policy Officer 0795 685 2822