UNISON response to council pensions report

January 25, 2012 12:24 PM

Today we have released a report on council pension contributions, you can read it in full here. We found that council employer pension contributions were equivalent to £1 in every £5 of council tax receipts in 2010-11.

UNISON issued a lazy response to this earlier, strewn with factual errors. They claim that:

Actually, the local government pension scheme costs the taxpayer just 5p in every £1 paid in council tax.


No, it really doesn't. What UNISON seems to have done is calculate employer pensions contributions as a share of total council income. The response is so bad, that they even go on to explain their own miscalculation in the next line:

Councils get only 25% of their revenue from council tax, 75% comes from other sources, including business rates and local government grants.


Yes, councils get their revenue mainly from central government (that is still taxpayers' money of course). But employer contributions are equivalent to a fifth of the revenue they receive in Council Tax.  If employer contributions were reduced by ten per cent, local authorities could afford a two per cent cut in council tax rates. This is all just simple maths.

Then they wheeled out this tired old line:

When dinner ladies, social workers and care staff retire, on average they will get just £4,000 a year, dropping to just £2,600 for women.


I wrote about this nonsense in a blog in November, when public sector workers were out on strike. But to repeat: if someone works for a council for a year, their pension pot will be small.  But they'll have worked in other places for years and can accrue other pension entitlements while they're there. That average is meaningless and a dishonest attempt to mislead the public about the value of public sector pensions. Those who spend their career in the public sector do very well out of their pension schemes.Today we have released a report on council pension contributions, you can read it in full here. We found that council employer pension contributions were equivalent to £1 in every £5 of council tax receipts in 2010-11.

UNISON issued a lazy response to this earlier, strewn with factual errors. They claim that:

Actually, the local government pension scheme costs the taxpayer just 5p in every £1 paid in council tax.


No, it really doesn't. What UNISON seems to have done is calculate employer pensions contributions as a share of total council income. The response is so bad, that they even go on to explain their own miscalculation in the next line:

Councils get only 25% of their revenue from council tax, 75% comes from other sources, including business rates and local government grants.


Yes, councils get their revenue mainly from central government (that is still taxpayers' money of course). But employer contributions are equivalent to a fifth of the revenue they receive in Council Tax.  If employer contributions were reduced by ten per cent, local authorities could afford a two per cent cut in council tax rates. This is all just simple maths.

Then they wheeled out this tired old line:

When dinner ladies, social workers and care staff retire, on average they will get just £4,000 a year, dropping to just £2,600 for women.


I wrote about this nonsense in a blog in November, when public sector workers were out on strike. But to repeat: if someone works for a council for a year, their pension pot will be small.  But they'll have worked in other places for years and can accrue other pension entitlements while they're there. That average is meaningless and a dishonest attempt to mislead the public about the value of public sector pensions. Those who spend their career in the public sector do very well out of their pension schemes.

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