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LGA backs retirement at 68

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Growing criticism of final salary public sector pensions has prompted the Local Government Association to back raising the sector’s eligibility age to 68.

The LGA responded to criticism of “pensions apartheid” between the public and private sectors by insisting its move - not due until 2046 - would mirror the raising of the state retirement age.

But LGA environment board chairman Paul Bettison (Con) told executive colleagues the plan would fail to combat the impression that town hall pension schemes were more generous than their private sector counterparts.

“It doesn’t seem very dramatic to me - what will longevity be like in 2046?” he said.

“It’s an entire generation away, so we could do this and still be out of step.”

Cllr Bettison warned that at a time many councils offered salaries comparable to or better than those in the private sector, councils could no longer make a sound case for staff receiving more favourable pensions.

Sir Steve Bullock (Lab), who chairs Local Government Employers , said it was wrong to see the proposals as a “do nothing until 2046” stance.

He said he expected the age rise to be phased in over the intervening years, and that measures, such as employer/employee shared contributions, were being introduced.

After the meeting, Ian Greenwood (Lab), who chairs the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum , said raising the retirement age was a sound long-term objective.

But he said actuaries should be compelled to be less conservative and reduce the apparent “over-padding” of schemes, cutting contributions to more realistic levels. “What we need is a review of the way that we value funds,” he said.

“In West Yorkshire we’ve got a 20-year cashflow projection that says we have got£150m in income over expenditure.”

However, Matthew Elliott , chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance , said: “The public sector must move on to a defined contribution scheme, just like everyone else.”

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