Pensions squeeze must wait

Ministers have retreated from plans to cut the number of teachers taking early retirement by deferring pension changes until after the general election. But Michael Forsyth, the Scottish Secretary, insisted that the move to transfer the full costs of early retirement to the employers and away from a shared arrangement with the teachers' superannuation scheme would go ahead.

The changes are now scheduled to take effect in early September and not April 1, as outlined by a Scottish Office Pensions Agency consultation paper in October. The move, paralleled south of the border, where teachers mounted legal challenges to the ruling, is being seen as an election climbdown.

Teachers' associations were concerned about the tight timetable and the immediate ramifications for staffing. Those accepted for early retirement up to the end of March would not have been affected.

The pension crackdown effectively cuts off local authorities' ability to offer generous settlements to staff.

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