Opinion Former Article

NASUWT: Pension scheme in peril

Over three-quarters of teachers cannot afford to pay more for their pension and over half are seriously considering opting out of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), new figures from the NASUWT, the largest teachers union, show.

Full reports available on request

An NASUWT survey on pay and working conditions found that:
79% of teachers stated that they cannot afford the increases in pension contributions, which come into effect from this month;
58% of respondents said that they were seriously considering opting out of the TPS as a result of the Government’s changes;
79% believe that changes to pensions will have an adverse impact on teacher recruitment.

Over 17,500 teachers responded to the Union’s ‘Big Question’ survey in March 2012.

There is clear evidence that the changes are having a disproportionate impact on minority groups.

A separate study of NASUWT members’ attitudes on pensions revealed that:
· 51% of 21 to 30 year olds and 53% of 31 to 40 year olds say they could not afford to pay more for their pensions;
· 61% of black and minority ethnic teachers stated that they would not be able to afford the increase;
· 70% of young teachers say they are likely to be forced out of the scheme and over half of women (59%) say they would opt out.

The findings have been released as representatives at the NASUWT’s Annual Conference in Birmingham debate a motion opposing the Government’s changes to public sector pensions.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“These findings vividly demonstrate the adverse impact the pension changes will have on recruitment and retention.

“The responses also show that the Teachers’ Pension Scheme itself is in peril, with the potential for significant opt-out.
“Taxpayers will bear the burden if increased numbers of teachers opt out of the TPS, threatening its financial viability.

“Despite months of negotiations, the Government has failed to provide one shred of evidence demonstrating why these changes are necessary.

“It has plundered the pension schemes to swell treasury coffers and has arrogantly disregarded the adverse impact on the education service.

“Teachers’ pensions are not unaffordable or unsustainable and the NASUWT will be continuing with its ongoing campaign of industrial action over pensions and conditions of service, including pay, jobs and workload.”


ENDS

NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Ben Padley 07785 463 119

Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham from April 6-9.

Copies of the Big Question and the Pensions survey are attached.

The NASUWT is the only union engaged in a continuous programme of industrial action over pensions, through the Standing up for Standards campaign of action short of strike action.

The Union has lodged a legal challenge with the Treasury on the failure to conduct a valuation of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

The NASUWT is the only teachers’ union to have lodged a legal challenge on the failure of the Department for Education (DfE) to conduct an Equality Impact Assessment of its proposed pension changes. This resulted in the Cabinet Office and Treasury determining a more detailed assessment process. The NASUWT is continuing to monitor progress on this to ensure that the commitments given are delivered.

The full text of the motion on pensions that was debated today is below.

PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION CAMPAIGN

Barbara Jones to move,

Alistair Wingate to second:

Conference asserts that the changes to teachers’ pensions proposed by the Coalition Government are unfair and unwarranted and amount to an assault on teachers’ conditions of service.

Conference believes that implementation of these proposals will make teachers work longer, pay more and receive less in retirement.

Conference further asserts that:

(i) the Coalition Government is perpetuating the myth that the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and other public service pension schemes are unaffordable;

(ii) any cuts will affect low-paid, part-time and women workers disproportionately and

(iii) the public debt can be reduced in ways that will spread the burden more equitably.

Conference endorses emphatically the continuing campaign in conjunction with other TUC unions to defend public sector pensions by all means available.

(Kirklees, Birmingham)

 

AMENDMENT

Mick Lyons to move,

Ian Phillips to second: In the third paragraph ‘iii’ replace ‘in ways that will spread the burden more equitably’ with ‘without the need for public sector austerity’.

(Executive)
 

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