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Date Thurs 26 May 2011

UNISON Scotland welcomes warning to Treasury over public service pensions

UNISON Scotland today welcomed concerns from MPs who warned that the Treasury has not carried out a proper assessment of the impact of changes to public service pensions.

The report by the Westminster Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlighted that the Treasury had not looked closely enough at the impact of changes underlying their cost projections and warned this could lead to additional spending elsewhere – including demand for means tested benefits.

UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “In 2008 we reached agreements with the Scottish and UK governments on the future funding of public service pensions. The new UK government has unilaterally slapped an unaffordable 50% increase in employee contributions at a time of pay cuts and rising inflation. We have warned that this will lead to further opt-outs from pensions, placing new burdens on welfare benefits.”

The PAC report also says that officials appeared to define affordability on the basis of public perception.

Dave Watson added: “Lord Hutton’s report buried once and for all the myth of gold plated pensions. But the UK government clearly thought this was an opportunity to grab more cash from low paid public service workers. This is on top of cuts to pension benefits by 15% as a result of the switch of index from RPI to CPI and plans to make everyone work longer. Public service workers are being asked to pay more, work longer and get less. That’s not acceptable and will be resisted.”

ENDS

Notes for editors: The PSC report is available at http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/pensions-report/

Background information on public service pension changes at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/pensions/index.html

The regulation of public service pensions is a devolved issue. The Scottish Government will therefore have to make decisions over the implementation of the Treasury plans.

For more information contact UNISON’s communications officer Trisha Hamilton on 0141 342 2877 / 07939 478 461 or UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson on 07958 122 409.

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