You can retire at 60 now after all

21st October 2005 at 01:00
Existing teachers will be able to retire at 60 on a full pension after the Westminster government backed down this week over reforms designed to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Unions hailed the agreement between ministers and public-sector unions as a major victory that would placate teachers and head off the threat of industrial action.

The National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT had threatened to strike unless the Government backed down over plans to force public-sector workers to delay retirement until 65 or accept a reduced pension.

The changes were due to be phased in between 2007 and 2013. But new teachers will be expected to work until 65 to qualify for a full pension.

Hardliners said this would create a two-tier workforce.

Ministers had said reform was needed to control pension costs, which are being pushed up by increased life expectancy and a rise in the number of people reaching retirement age.

The deal, which covers civil service and NHS staff and teachers, said:

"Existing scheme members will have the right to suffer no detriment in terms of their normal pension age and will retain their existing pension provision."

Women on career breaks are also covered by the deal.

Proposals to extend teachers' working lives were part of a package of measures put forward by the Government. These included:

* changes to ill-health retirement rules benefiting teachers who cannot work again, but giving less to those well enough to get a different job;

* extension of dependants' benefits to unmarried partners;

* greater flexibility to encourage people to stay on after the official retirement age.

Other proposed reforms and changes to new teachers' pensions will be worked out in separate negotiations due to be completed by June 2006.

Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, was optimistic about future negotiations, and said the unions would examine whether new teachers could make increased pension contributions to allow them to retire earlier on a full pension.

"This is a significant agreement which protects all teachers from any imposed changes. Anyone who is currently a teacher, whether they are aged 22 or 55, will be able to retire at 60."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "This is a great deal for the current workforce. However, we remain very concerned that new entrants will be paying over the odds for worse terms and conditions. A pension age of 65 would adversely affect recruitment and retention."

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