We need to start being practical about pensions

27th May 2011 at 01:00

In her article last week, "There's a reason why teachers are speaking with one voice on pensions: they know they're being cheated" (page 25), Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary Mary Bousted pointed out that the average teacher receives a pension of #163;10,000 per annum.

Since the average teacher's salary is #163;34,000 per annum, this means a pension of 29.5 per cent of salary. Conclusion: the current contribution level of 20.5 per cent is nowhere near enough.

Don't like that method of calculation? Then let's look at it another way.

When I retire at 65, I will have a life expectancy of 17.6 years. This means that for every year I work, my total pension pot increases by 17.6 sixtieths of my salary, which is again 29.5 per cent. Same conclusion.

The fact that the contributions are paid well in advance of the pension being received does not change the analysis. As long as my salary keeps pace with inflation, the percentages are unchanged.

If we want to argue that the taxpayer should bear the cost of these higher contributions, because of our below average salaries compared to other professionals, that is fair enough. But we need to stop kidding ourselves that the current level of contributions is sufficient to cover the cost of the current benefits.

Keith Mitchell, Ilford, Essex.

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