Sums for local councils don't add up

Philip Booth writes on public sector pensions in the Evening Standard

IT USED to be said that local authority workers received their gold-plated pensions as a reward for poor pay. Not any more. Public sector workers - including those employed by London's local authorities - now receive levels of pay comparable with or better than private sector employees. In addition, the risk of redundancy in public sector jobs is much less than in the private sector.

Of course, we would all like to have good pensions when we retire. But, the private sector is closing down its final salary pension schemes because it cannot afford them: the sums do not add up. What applies in the private sector applies in the public sector too. We cannot expect to start work at the age of about 22, work for 40 years - significantly less for many people who take career breaks - and then be retired for about 20 years. If we are to spend less than half our life working how will we generate the money to support us in the rest of our life?

Unfortunately, the costs of providing pensions to public sector workers are hidden by a series of complex accounting tricks. Calculated properly, a contribution rate of about 40 per cent of salary is necessary to provide a full teacher's pension.

A staggering 65-70 per cent of salary would be necessary to provide a policeman or policewoman with their pension, due to their early retirement.

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