Public sector pensions and 'gold-plated' remark spark debate

15th October 2010 at 01:00

The STUC welcomes the acknowledgment from Lord Hutton that public sector pensions are not gold-plated, following the publication of his report into public sector pensions.

While welcoming Lord Hutton's acceptance that defined contribution or money purchase schemes are not the way forward for public sector workers, we are concerned that the proposal of higher contributions from public sector workers may reduce the number of members who choose to enter pension schemes.

This is self-defeating, as future governments will have to meet the cost of supporting public service workers who retire without pensions. Our fear is that those increased contributions will hit the most vulnerable workers, the low-paid and part-time workers who are predominantly women.

When considering Lord Hutton's recommendations, the Government should remember that public sector pension schemes have already undergone substantial change with retirement ages in many being raised to 65, in line with the private sector.

The Government should also review the current method of evaluating pension schemes to provide a more accurate and realistic projection of scheme liabilities.

The myth that public sector pensions are gold-plated derives from the race to devalue private sector pensions, driven by the greed of large corporations and their shareholders.

Grahame Smith, general secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Glasgow.

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