Local Government pensions under threat

Osborne plans raid on LGPS and other pensions schemes – by Angela Boyle

News has emerged that George Osborne wants to force pension schemes to invest in his “pet infrastructure projects”.

This comes after a lot of other negative changes to our pensions. From April 2014, your pension was calculated on career average earnings rather than final salary (something that affects women workers more than men). It is a defined benefit scheme (you know exactly what you will get),  better than defined contribution  (you know what you pay but not what you’ll get). So it’s still a good deal.

The government however has plans for the £210 billion  in the LGPS.

In preparation for the new regulations, the government invited LGPS authorities to develop proposals to invest their assets through pools of at least £25 billion to achieve cost savings and benefits of scale. These are known as CIVs – Common Investment Vehicles. George Osborne calls these British Sovereign Wealth Funds – but they are not government money. This is worker’s capital – it was contributed by scheme members and employers, not government or business interests.

Because Osborne will classify them as Sovereign Wealth Funds, he will be able to force them to invest up to 25% in various state run infrastructure projects.

However, restrictions will exist on where and how funds invest – e.g. the government can intervene if they disapprove of investing in support of Boycotting Israeli Apartheid projects in the West Bank, or environmentally  friendly companies. We could be forced to shore up government pet infrastructure projects.

Redundancies will also affect our fund – money goes out to pay lump sums and benefits,  contributions decrease with the workforce.

Heed this warning – it is reported that Osborne plans to scrap the facility to take 25% of your pension as a lump sum.

UNISON monitors pension issues nationally, regionally and locally. At UNISON’s Greater London Pension Forum on March 1st, Glyn Jenkins will update us, with a further briefing on March 21st.  Branch Secretary Jon Rogers sits on the Pensions Committee for the Lambeth Pensions Fund: I am a trade union representative on its Board, meeting March 23rd: retired members also serve you.

Your pension is no perk – you earned it, you contribute to it,  it will fund life after Lambeth. Look after it!



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