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15 June 2010
Nick Clegg's attack on public sector pensions is part of a long-running Liberal Democrat campaign against the 'modest' pensions of local government staff, health workers and teachers.
Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Tuesday, 15 June) that the majority of public sector pensioners receive a pension of less than £5,000 a year which is hardly the 'gold plated' riches that Nick Clegg alludes to.
Unite's Assistant General Secretary for the Public Services, Gail Cartmail said; 'It is deeply ironic and very sad that the Liberal Democrats, who first introduced the state pension with Lloyd George in the 1900s, should now be mounting a right-wing campaign to decimate retirement incomes a century later.'
Gail Cartmail said: 'Last year, the TUC said in a briefing that the majority of public sector pensioners receive a pension of less than £5,000 a year and that half the women on NHS pensions receive less than £3,500 annually.'
'We are not talking about gold-plated riches here, but modest pensions needed to help loyal public servants in their old age.'
Earlier this year, the Liberal Democrats claimed that the pension deficit for local councils in England and Wales could hit £60bn this year which Unite said 'was well wide of the mark'.
Gail Cartmail said that three keys facts need to be borne in mind as the public sector pension debate hots up in the run-up to next week's emergency Budget.
• That the current level of public sector pension provision is self-funding i.e. the money needed is covered by the contributions made by employers and employees. This scheme is not asking for bail-outs from the government.
• The cost of providing a public sector pension, according to a report by the Pension Policy Institute, is the same as the cost of a typical final salary scheme in the private sector.
• The government has negotiated with the trade unions and agreement reached to raise the retirement age for new entrants for public sector schemes; to increase average member contributions; and to cap the increase in government costs.