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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Have your say: Pensions deal
Brendan Barber, TUC
The TUC is happy that pension promises will now not be broken

Civil servants, teachers and National Health workers will be able to keep their pension age of 60, after a deal was struck between the government and unions.

In exchange, unions have agreed new staff who join the schemes will have the higher retirement age of 65 phased in.

We asked for your comments on the following:

Was the government right to keep its pension promises to existing workers?

Or will a future government be forced to renege on the deal?

What is a fair age to retire on a full pension?

This debate is now closed. Below is a selection of your views.


Why should an employer be able to change the employees contract of employment simply because it feels that it will cost too much?

Could I decide not to pay as much to my mortgage because I felt it was costing too much?
John Stewart, Ayr

As an ex civil servant, I can honestly say that the pay was poor but the prospect of a good pension in retirement was an incentive.

Before we start raiding public sector workers' pension schemes, let's reform the pension schemes that members of parliament get.
Steve Nichols, Poole

It did strike me that as we are all members of one particular pension scheme, the state retirement pension, and this consideration didn't stop the government putting up the retirement age for that from 60 to 65 for all women born after 1955 from 2010 onwards, who will have been "members" since about 1971 by that stage. The words cheap, Labour and trick come to mind.
P Miller

It is immoral and outrageous that the government taxes company pension schemes and increases other taxes to pay for public sector final salary schemes.

It is not surprising that younger people do not trust pension schemes and have little faith in the government's future taxation policies.

The government must share the blame for the demise of pension funds in the private sector.
Vince Aldred, Warrington

Every year, while I was working, I had a statement showing the amount in my company pension fund. This determined my pension, and it was almost halved by my retirement at 60 instead of 65.

Government employees don't have a fund and many don't understand the concept.

Far from aiding private sector pensions, Whitehall civil servants have removed the tax breaks enjoyed by the private sector in order to help fund their own pensions.
Mervyn Vallance, Maldon

I think changing the rules for pensions, for anybody, when they are half way through their career should be looked on as fraud.

Let all alterations be for people coming into a pension scheme, not for existing members
Ian Snow, Bromsgrove
I also think that discussions as to the viability of public sector workers' pensions seem to forget that the workers are making significant contributions to their pension schemes out of their salaries.

Let all alterations be for people coming into a pension scheme, not for existing members.
Ian Snow, Bromsgrove

Most local government workers are very low paid and the pension is part of the contract and terms and conditions of employment.

You have to pay into the pension 6% of your salary, and years ago it was compulsory. You do not have to retire at 60, you can work longer, and many have no option.

If you retire at 60 you only get a pension based on your service years, so many people will be unable to retire early, many will have a small pension and will lose benefits.

I have left full time local government service. Now, my pension is frozen and linked to some poor index, but I strongly believe that it is the right of these workers and must be respected. I now do the same type of work with a 75% increase in salary.
Martin J Lambert, Manchester

Having almost 25 years service in nursing, mostly acute, you're darn right age 60 is the age to retire, if I last that long...

Public sector workers have a lot to put up
Cathy MacKay, West Yorkshire
It's not just the hard, physical work, but the emotional toll of caring for the sick and the dying, and their relatives.

Public sector workers have a lot to put up with: shift work, night duty, weekends and Christmas on duty, and so on.

And only the other day my best mate was assaulted whilst doing her job! Sixty? Bring it on!
Cathy MacKay, West Yorkshire

When I started in my profession 27 years ago I entered a contract to serve the public.

My employers entered a contract to give me a pension when I retired. Why should my employers now be allowed to renege on their part?

The argument that my pension is unsustainable was not used 27 years ago when my employers were happy using my contributions to run the service on the cheap instead of investing my contributions!

Why should I have to pay the price of my employer's incompetence? After all, the country can afford MPs' pensions.
William Moonie, Denny Stirling

I am 52 and have worked in the NHS for 30 years. I feel strongly that as a public servant, I should be allowed to retire on my NHS pension based on the contributions I have made.

I think I and others in a similar position have earned the right.

Therefore, the agreement reached is the right one, otherwise it would have been a huge betrayal.
Steve Francombe, Croydon

My husband and I work in low paid jobs in the private sector without company pensions. We did the responsible thing and took out private pensions.

We were promised a good pension when we retired when we went into our pension some 30 years ago. In good faith we paid into it ever since but now we are told it is worth 10-20% of the original amount promised.

In the private sector we have all had to accept that we will have poor pensions when we retire at 65 and will all now have no choice but to work until we are at least 70 to get any extra money into the pot.

It is time the public sector came into the real world and not expect to live off the backs of the rest of us!
Janet White, West Midlands
Why should the private sector fund public sector pensions to allow them to retire at 60 when the public sector contributes nothing to the pensions of the private sector which is self-funding?

It is time the public sector came into the real world and not expect to live off the backs of the rest of us!
Janet White, West Midlands

I work in the private sector for a salary barely above poverty level.

I don't smoke, drink or have an extravagant lifestyle. I have no income left at the end of every month for savings or pension contributions, but I am now expected to work until 70 and then retire in poverty just to provide public sector workers with a fantastic pension.

Public sector workers are just greedy and selfish.
Chris Porritt, Grimsby

The prospect of a fairly good pension after 40 years full time service is the only reason why I have ever worked for the public sector.

I work for the NHS and day-after-day receive verbal abuse and complaints from dissatisfied patients, as well as poor physical working conditions.

A lot of people are under the impression that public sector pensions are non-contributory.

Whilst I believe civil servants only pay 1.5% of their salary to get the same benefits as other public sector schemes, I pay 6% of my salary, as do most public sector workers.

I feel the government should honour our retirement age of 60, but it's only fair that all public servants pay the same percentage of their salary towards their pension.
Lisa

As a public sector worked I'll accept a less generous pension when it's offset by a salary which matches what I would earn for the same job in the private sector.

Public sector pensions are only part of the overall package and shouldn't be looked at in isolation any more than private sector duvet days!
Matt, London

David Ellis starts this thread saying that public sector workers receive "lower pay than average". But he presents no evidence.

Where is the evidence? A personal anecdote doesn't count. I recall a survey earlier this year, which showed that public sector workers actually receive higher pay than their private sector equivalents.
Stephen Magill, Huddersfield

Civil servants wages are increasing at a faster rate than in private industry. They are rarely made redundant and have benefits others workers can only dream of.
This government is leaving the mess to its successors
Joe Simon, Harrow

This government is leaving the mess to its successors. What is the point of listening to the Turner Report now?
Joe Simon, Harrow

The point made by John Booth could not be further from the truth.

There is nothing "lavish" about my pension. My predicted pension at 60 is 400 pounds per month after 34 years as a civil servant. Don't be swayed by figures put about by CBI et al.

Once again, we talk of bringing the level down to the private sector. Why not bring the bar up to the public sector?

Indeed why not bring the bar up to a level, beyond the low levels of the public sector, where pensioners can live in a decent standard of living.

That way all workers, not just those at the top of businesses, will have a chance of a reasonable income in their old age.
Stuart, East Kilbride

It is immoral and outrageous that the government tax company pension schemes and increase other taxes to pay for public sector final salary schemes.

It is not surprising that younger people do not trust pension schemes and have little faith in the government's future taxation policies.

The government must share the blame for the demise of pension funds in the private sector.
Vince Aldred, Warrington

It is all very well for people to ask "Why should public sector workers be able to retire at 60 when private sector workers have to work to 65?"

The answer is simple.

Virtually the only incentive to work in the public sector has (until now) been the better pension scheme
David Ellis
If public sector workers have to continue to put up with the lower pay and worse conditions during their working lives, it should come as no surprise that virtually the only incentive to work in the public sector has (until now) been the better pension scheme.

Without that, we're all going to have to pay public sector employees a rate nearer to what they can get in the private sector, or there'll be an even greater shortage of teachers, nurses, lecturers and so on than there is now.
David Ellis

There is no doubt the pensions deal is unsustainable.

Private sector employees will be asked to work longer to pay through taxes for the relatively lavish pensions of the public service while suffering much poorer returns on their own pensions.

As for the spin put on the deal, that the revised deal will save as much as the original proposal, does the government think we are simpletons?

I think this government has decided to pass the parcel to the next government.

In fairness, when setting public service pay scales by comparison with competitive, private pay scales, allowance should be made for the huge additional value of public service pensions.
John Booth, Letchworth Garden City

Academics, as the most underpaid of highly qualified professionals, view their decent, secure pensions as one of the few benefits of their vocation.

The government really needs to consider the consequences of removing such entitlements to future recruitment and retention of staff.

The government should simply bite the bullet and compel [everyone] to put aside enough of their earnings into pensions
Guy Redden, Lincoln
Later retirement detracts from quality of life.

As salaries increase every year in an expanding economy, the government should simply bite the bullet and compel all employers and employees, whether in the public or private sectors, to put aside enough of their earnings into pensions.

This worked fine in Australia (where I used to live). It just meant a few annual pay rises were channelled into increasing pension contributions, rather than wage increases.
Guy Redden, Lincoln

This government takes billions every year from employees in company pensions, forcing the end of so many final salary schemes.

What do you expect from a tax and spend Labour government?
RD Grant, Bramley
The clear message to young people seeking a career is to avoid industry of any sort. Don't take a risk, avoid entrepreneurial opportunities, which Britain depends on to create wealth and pay these incredible public pensions.

This is exactly the wrong way round. But what do you expect from a tax and spend Labour government.
RD Grant, Bramley

When I joined the Civil Service it was a long term career to serve the public interest, subject to strict rules to ensure propriety & political neutrality; and with geographical & functional mobility.

The salaries would not make staff rich but there would be a secure pension on agreed terms at the end.

If it is necessary to offer new pension conditions for new entrants that is fine
Tony Lord, Herts
Much has changed in terms of the expectations and nature of public services, and staff pay and numbers over the past three decades.

Those of us who are still there, and have done our best to meet those challenges, feel we have delivered our part of the contract. We expect our employer to deliver his, not welch on the deal that was made.

If it is necessary to offer new pension conditions for new entrants that is fine. They are free to decide if they want to join on those terms or take their talents to where they would be better appreciated.
Tony Lord, Herts

My wife is 38 and comes home exhausted after a days teaching. If she's still doing it at 65 she'll be coming home in a box. Some jobs are just not possible to do after a certain age.

What employer wants someone who's physically less able?
John, Cardiff
We might all be living longer but what employer wants someone who's physically less able and whose mental faculties are starting to go?

People who can keep working into their 70s and beyond are not the norm.
John,

A pension adviser once told me that a teacher's life expectancy was dramatically reduced if they worked beyond 55, let alone 60. He cited stress as the reason.

We may get older, but each fresh class of children is as young and demanding as ever.

Attempts to raise the teachers' retirement age was nothing short of a death sentence.
Keith Moseley, Monmouth

The government is wrong to back down. Why should the public sector retire at 60 and the private sector at 65?

It should be the same, and if the government legislates for 67, then 70, it should be for both public and private sectors.
Robert Gill, Galashiels

The media fails to appreciate that public sector careers, particularly those with local government, have been contractually defined in terms of length of service, 40 years, often beginning at age 18.

The private sector is jealous of public service pensions
Ralph Gee, Nottingham
The posts are not age-terminated. Once time has been served, retirement is possible as no further contributions are paid into the superannuation funds by either side.

It's not whether we can afford to let public servants retire, but how far you are prepared to dishonour the promises made.

The private sector is jealous of public service pensions, determined to level the playing field down to its own wasteland, but then it shouldn't have plundered the funds.

They caused the "black holes" not the workers.
Ralph Gee, Nottingham

The answer is yes. However this should also be used as a benchmark for all other pension schemes.

I do not know anyone, including financial experts, who given the choice would not sign up to a defined benefit scheme.
Richard Earey

When I started teaching in 1966 I received the princely net monthly salary with all its London weighting of 44 per month, at a time when the average wage was 20 per week, and Ford workers at Dagenham were reputed to be earning 60 per week!

I think teachers should be able to retire at 60 as promised
Christina Gore
I contributed 6% a month from 1966 onwards, and the LEA also contributed so the country has had the benefit of that money in its coffers too. So I think teachers should be able to retire at 60 as promised from the outset.

Having taught eight years full time and the remaining 13 years as a part-time supply teacher my teacher's pension is not so great, 273 net per month.

When combined with my modest state pension, I have 42 per month income tax on it.

So these pensions are not vast despite what might be said in the press.
Christina Gore

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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SEE ALSO:
Deal on public sector pensions
18 Oct 05 |  Business


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