Pensions raid would light the touchpaper

1st October 2010 at 01:00

May I commend Drew Morrice for his insightful article, "Public pensions take a pounding" (September 17). He makes a clear case that the Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme is in a healthy state in terms of balances.

As Mr Morrice indicated, the Pensions Policy Institute concluded that the reforms to the STSS in 2007 reduced the value of benefits from 22 per cent to 19 per cent of salary. These reforms were the result of negotiations in which teachers agreed to contribute more to their pensions and to accept a later retirement age.

My wife and I have just retired, and we are alarmed that the Con-Dem Government has designs on our pensions. The Public Services Pensioners Council estimates that the planned move to uprate pensions through CPI (consumer price index) rather than RPI (retail price index) could mean a loss of pound;30,000 on a pound;10,000 pension over 25 years of retirement. Many teachers will not have pensions as large as pound;10,000 a year. Many women teachers, for example, whose service was broken while they brought up their families, will have small pensions and will suffer significantly.

A letter which I have received from the Scottish Public Pensions Agency states: "Pensions are index-linked in line with annual changes in RPI each September. This determines if a pension is to be increased from the following April and, if so, by how much." Surely, this is a legally- binding statement: a contract.

All teachers' unions and professional associations should oppose any reduction in teachers' pensions. It is happening at a time when teachers are likely to be subjected to a pay freeze, when they might be required to have even greater class contact and when cuts are about to be imposed on staffing, resources and accommodation against a backcloth of major curricular change.

It is only adding insult to injury if the Con-Dem Government arbitrarily and illegally attempts to cut teachers' pensions.

Charles McAteer, The Schoolhouse, Auchencairn, Castle Douglas.

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