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Hutton to work alone

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John Hutton will be the only member of the commission into public sector pensions, it has emerged.

The former Labour minister will work alone, but be advised by experts who have yet to be identified, a Treasury spokesman said.

Mr Hutton has made a call for written evidence only and will not hold formal oral evidence sessions before he publishes his interim report in September.

A Treasury spokesman said the short timeframe meant Mr Hutton wanted written evidence, to be submitted before the end of this month, which he will consider alongside reports such as the Institute of Director’s ‘Public Sector Pensions Commission’.

That paper, published earlier this month, criticised the lack of transparency in the way public sector pensions are calculated and presented a number of options for decreasing the cost for the taxpayer.

However, stakeholders preparing their own submissions have questioned why the Treasury has placed so much emphasis on the work.

Glyn Jenkins, Unison’s pension officer, said: “I am surprised they would give it any credibility. It is a total joke. It is not a commission, it is not independent. It is just a stool pigeon.”

Chris Bilsland, chamberlain of the City of London Corporation, said the IoD’s report was focused on the well-known transparency argument, rather than the “real issue” of importance - cost-sharing between employee and employer. “That commission’s report is really looking at the wrong thing,” he said. It was also a “very extreme view”, he added.

Union officials have also expressed concern about which experts will be used to give advice to Mr Hutton. Naomi Cooke, GMB’s pension officer, said: “It isn’t very transparent to have this vague notion of who is considering the evidence alongside him.”

Unison’s Mr Jenkins called on the commission to use expertise from within the trade union, as well as pension industry experts and academics. “They need somebody from the [pension fund] members as well,” he said.

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