Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Finance Committee

Proposals to increase civil service pension contributions have been opposed by the majority of responses to a recent consultation, a department official told the finance committee on 7 March 2012.

The plans would mean there would be no rise for those earning under £15,000 and a tiered increased for individuals earning more than £21,000.

The proposed increases to employee contribution rates would be effective from April 2012 to March 2013.

Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) pensions, Grace Nesbitt, said there were 94 responses to the consultation and the "majority expressed opposition to the general policy".

She added that trade unions such as Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (Nipsa) had questioned the necessity of any rise in contributions.

"They argued that rising costs had already been addressed by pension reforms introduced to the civil service scheme from 2007," she said.

Ms Nesbitt said she was "not in anyway trying to diminish the impact of increased contributions".

"It is significant and we do have to look at what people are earning and that is why there has been quite a strong reaction from staff," she added.

Dominic Bradley, deputy chair of the committee, explained that the NICS scheme was a statutory pension provision that was established by the Superannuation (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.

Its powers enable the Department of Finance to amend pension and compensation schemes in the NICS without the need for primary legislation.

Ms Nesbitt and her colleagues also gave a pre-introductory briefing on the Superannuation Bill.

If the Superannuation Bill becomes law, the 1972 Order would be amended to remove the need for union consent to reduce compensation payments.


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