Council pensions cost £4.5bn

Council pensions cost £4.5bn
Council pensions cost £4.5bn

By Jonathan Moore

A fifth of council tax, about £4.5 billion per year, is spent on local authority pensions a report revealed today.

The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) claimed 3,527 serving councillors benefit from the scheme which equates to an average £9.8 million per council, and that's excluding teachers and firefighters.

The report said this was a seven percent rise in funding from last year, despite the crippling economic climate.

"Gold-plated public sector pensions place a stranglehold on council budgets," said Maria Fort, policy analyst at TPA.

"They are unjust, unsustainable and unfair to ordinary people, many of whom have had to postpone their own retirement or seen their private pensions reduced to nothing.

"Instead of jumping on the pension gravy train, councillors need to start representing the interests of their constituents by encouraging councils to be more prudent.

"It's high time the pensions apartheid was brought to an end. Public sector pensions need urgent reform, to make the system fairer for everyone."

The Local Government Association (LGA) has accused the TPA of "breathtaking double standards".

It said councils were the most efficient part of the public sector which are providing better services than ever before.

Chief executive of the LGA John Ransford said: "It's extraordinary that the Taxpayers' Alliance wants to axe the pensions that hardworking lollipop ladies, bin men and librarians have paid into every working day but say nothing about the former boss of RBS who is set up for life with £650,000 a year."

Unison accused the TPA of the "same old vitriol against hard working public sector workers" and said they were "churning out the same old tired statistics" and coming to the wrong conclusions.

"It is often said that there are lies, damn lies and statistics and the TPA have got it wrong again," said Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government

"What do they want council workers to do? Why should council workers such as teaching assistants, home carers, dinner ladies, social workers and refuse collectors, contribute all their working lives to save for a pension, if they end up as a burden on the state because they can't make ends meet?"

She said they should be going after big business bosses who award themselves massive bonuses while forcing their staff into "pensions poverty" through their pension schemes.


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