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March 2007

 

 

CONSULTATION ON EXTENDING PROTECTION TO 2020

 

Following further discussions with UNISON and the other unions, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas has said that he intends to consult immediately on extending full protection to 2020 for those currently eligible to full protection to 2016, tapered to 2020. He says he wants to ensure “fairness to scheme members in England and Wales with respect to Scotland”. LGPS members in Scotland have already been offered full protection to 2020 and the same is likely in Northern Ireland.

 

At present we have no timetable for the consultation, but will let you know as soon as we hear.

 

SPECIAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE CALLS FOR TALKS TO CONTINUE

 

Delegates attending the Local Government Special Conference in London on 6 March backed the "substantial negotiated improvements" in the proposals for the new LGPS and called for talks to continue on the outstanding issues.  Delegates also rejected calls to move to an immediate industrial action ballot.

 

The Conference overwhelmingly supported a motion calling for members to be balloted on whether they accept the final proposals as soon as negotiations are completed.

 

The Conference further called for a full equality impact assessment under the Disability Discrimination Act to ensure that the new LGPS meets the needs of disabled workers.

 

IMPROVEMENTS WELCOMED BY CONFERENCE

 

The key proposed improvements to the LGPS welcomed by the Conference are as follows:

 

·                     An improved accrual rate – from 1/80th to 1/60th of final salary for every year worked

·                     Pensions for unmarried partners backdated to 1988

·                     A tiered contribution rate – which will result in those earning up to £16000 paying less than they currently do

·                     Improved death-in-service benefits

·                     The proposed three-tier ill health retirement scheme – potentially providing ill health retirement for some of those currently denied

·                     No two tier pension scheme - existing members of the LGPS will be able to transfer to the new scheme and benefit from the improvements.  Unlike the other public sector pension scheme where there will be a two tier pension system

 

Delegates also made it clear that retaining the LGPS as a final salary scheme in the face of the closure of so many other such schemes is a real achievement.  The National Association of Pension Funds has recently stated that 75% of final salary schemes are now closed to new members.

 

Conference also welcomed the unions' success in removing "unacceptable" proposals on redundancy and the fact that the pensions for children with no surviving parent will be enhanced. 

 

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

 

In line with the policy supported by all the Service Groups, our negotiators will vigorously pursue the following outstanding issues over the coming weeks:

 

·         Confirming full protection to 2020.

·         Agreeing definitions of ‘gainful employment’ and ‘within a reasonable time of leaving’ within the proposed ill health retirement provisions

·         Agreeing the formula for the calculation of part-time workers’ contributions

·         Dealing with the 5% manual workers’ protected rate

 

PART TIME WORKERS’ CONTRIBUTIONS

 

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)  have written to the Minister saying that there needs to be an equality impact assessment of the final proposed scheme and that they concur with UNISON’s view that the current proposal for calculating part-time contributions appears discriminatory. Further legal advice is being sought on this issue.  This will be shared with the Government, the employers and the EOC.  There is a consensus that there must be no unlawful discrimination against part-time workers in the scheme.  If our legal view does not prevail, we will explore legal action.

 

5% MANUAL WORKERS’ CONTRIBUTION RATE

 

We are still negotiating over this aspect of the current scheme.  We are still waiting for further information on those who currently pay 5% to see if/how the 5% rate could lawfully be carried forward.  The DCLG have made some initial suggestions about protection up to 2011, and further talks will take place when comprehensive data is received.

 

Once the negotiations are concluded on these issues there will be a consultative ballot of all affected members, asking if the final package is acceptable. In the meantime we will keep members and branches fully informed of all key developments in the negotiations.

 

UNISON RESPONDS TO LGPS DRAFT REGULATIONS

 

UNISON has submitted its response to the draft Regulations on the Local Government Pension Scheme, after consulting across the union.  The consultation period on the draft ended on 28 February. The Trade Union Side also responded to the Government. The text of UNISON’s response can be found on the pension section of the UNISON website at www.unison.org.uk/pensions


 

LGPS MEMBERS - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO

 

·                     Minister Phil Woolas has said that he intends to consult immediately on extending full protection to 2020 for those currently eligible to full protection to 2016, tapered to 2020

 

·                     We will be negotiating hard in the next few weeks over the following outstanding issues:

 

-                     Confirming full protection to 2020.

-                     Agreeing definitions of ‘gainful employment’ and ‘within a reasonable time of leaving’ within the proposed ill health retirement provisions

-                     Agreeing the formula for calculation of part-time workers’ contributions

-                     Dealing with the 5% manual workers’ protected rate

 

·                     Once the negotiations are concluded there will be a consultative ballot of members to see if the final package is acceptable

 

·                     Make sure your branch has got your correct details in preparation for the consultative ballot

 

·                     Use the pensions calculator on the UNISON website to get an estimate of your benefits under the proposed new LGPS www.unison.org.uk/pensions

 

Get non-members in your workplace to sign up to UNISON

 

Pickets outside Taberner House

Picture courtesy of Croydon Guardian

 

PROTECT WHAT IS

RIGHTFULLY YOURS!