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PENSION RIGHTS WILL COST MILLIONS

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Union demands to strengthen the rights of partners of local government pension scheme members would cost councils£...
Union demands to strengthen the rights of partners of local government pension scheme members would cost councils £250 million a year if implemented in full, according to the local government pensions steering committee, UKSC.

Employers have said there will be no extra money for improvements to partners' pension rights, which the Trades Union Congress has campaigned for across the public sector (LGC, 8 December).

In particular, unions want the partners of unmarried council workers to be able to claim their partner's pension if they die. This alone would cost councils £60m, according to UKSC.

In a statement, the UKSC said it was still committed to better rights for married and unmarried partners, but 'there can be no prospect of the proposals being implemented in the foreseeable future'.

Any improvement would mean an increase in employer contributions, which in turn puts pressure on the council tax. Even without the improvements, employers face a £150m increase in contributions to the local government scheme in 1997-98, and millions more for police and fire pensions.

However, employers are prepared to deliver some of the cheaper items on the unions' list of improvements, probably by April 1998, in return for an increase in the contributions manual staff and their employers pay towards their pensions.

Currently, manual staff pay 5% of their salary towards their pension, and white-collar workers 6%, both matched by employer contributions. If all new scheme members pay 6%, employers would save £24m, which would cover the cost of improved partners' rights.

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