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Unison claims women face poverty...
Unison claims women face poverty

By Jennifer Sprinks

The government and trade unions are struggling to reach a compromise just days before the closure of the consultation on the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Unison and nine other unions, including the GMB, are battling to get the government to back down on the proposal to remove the 85-year rule from the scheme. The rule currently enables LGPS members to retire at 60 with a full pension if their service and age adds up to 85.

The government argues the rule has to be removed because the scheme is no longer economically viable.

The New Policy Institute last week claimed the government would be worse off by£2bn if the LGPS did not exist - twice as much as the scheme currently pays out - because of the additional pension costs it would incur.

Unless the government can reach a compromise, trade unions have threatened to conduct a national ballot for strike action when the consultation closes on Tuesday.

Unison has argued that the proposed cuts will force many women below the poverty line in retirement. At Unison Women's conference last week in Gateshead, LGPS female members spoke of their fear that they would bear the brunt of cutbacks to the scheme.

The union's general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: 'Most LGPS members are women who may not earn much but who make a huge contribution to our public services.

'Sitting behind the cold government assessment that we can't afford pensions any more are the real faces of people such as dinner ladies, nursery school and teaching assistants and cleaners, who did the right thing and took six per cent out of their often meagre salaries to provide for their own future.

'But now those councils who took pension holidays in the 1980s and 1990s are trying to hide their financial mismanagement by forcing these women to cough up the difference.'

A Local Government Association spokesman denied women would be worse off.

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