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COUNCILS IMPROVE PERFORMANCE ON ILL-HEALTH RETIREMENT

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There have been improvements in local government's performance on ill-health retirement, but the Treasury's new rep...
There have been improvements in local government's performance on ill-health retirement, but the Treasury's new report shows that there is still some way to go before the rate of ill-health retirements in the public sector is comparable to that in the private sector.

'The unexplained differences between authorities of similar type and size indicate that at its root this is a management issue, the solution to which is cultural rather than medical,' says Charles Nolda, executive director of the Employers' Organisation for local government.

The local government regulations have been tightened in recent years, in particular in relation to the definition of permanent ill-health and the need to use independent medical advisers qualified in occupational health.

The funding arrangements for our scheme also create a strict financial discipline for authorities which ensures that proper provision is made within the fund for ill-health retirements.

In the police and fire schemes, the situation is different not least because of the stringent physical requirements to do the job. However, progress is beginning to be made in reducing the level of ill-health retirements in both services and the recommendations in the Treasury report should help continue that progress.

The emphasis in the Treasury report on finding alternative work for staff who are 'burnt-out' but still capable of functioning at a less demanding level is welcome in principle.

But it needs funding levels that allow for such flexibility and full protection of the employee's pension expectations if it is to be viable in practice.

Also welcome is the suggestion that pension schemes should consider intermediate options, such as a reduced pension, for cases where the employee is still capable of working but not at the level at which he or she is employed.

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