More than 3.7 women will be affected by government’s plans to change local government scheme, says UNISON

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The government’s pensions proposals will hit predominantly low-paid women, UNISON says.

More than 3.7 million women working in public services across the UK could be affected by the plans to make them pay more, work longer and receive less pension in retirement.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “We have found that women are being badly hit by the recession both as providers and as users of services.  In the public sector, they face pay freezes at a time of rising inflation, job losses and now an attack on their pension entitlements.

“These women are often low paid and struggling to make ends meet as prices rise and wages are cut; many are single parents. They already pay a sizeable proportion of their salaries into their pension schemes to save for their retirement. And those schemes are already sustainable and affordable. Government ministers want them to pay up to 50% more with no guarantee that the money will go into the pension schemes. It is effectively a tax on public sector workers.”

Nurses, care staff, teaching assistants, social workers and school meals workers are just some of the women will be affected by the plans. The average pension for a woman working in local government is just £2,800 a year and in health it’s around £3,500 a year.

Members pay in between 5.5% and 7.5% of their salaries to save for their retirement.  If they did not save, they would end up on means-tested benefits, at a cost to taxpayers.

Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, said: “These proposals would hit low paid women in local government hard – they make up the vast majority of local government workers. Their pensions are already low – average rates are £4,000 for men, dropping to just £2,600 or £50 a week for women. Changes to the accrual rates would bring down the value of their pensions even further.

“We have said from the start that these drastic changes to the local government pension scheme are not necessary – it is cash rich and financially sound. The reforms already made in the last set of negotiations have made it affordable and sustainable for the long term.”

 

 


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