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Unison branches back pension reforms

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The vast majority of Unison branches have backed proposed reforms to local government pensions, according to a consultation.

A ballot of members is due to begin on Tuesday and a consultation of branches representing local government employees shows 82% are recommending members vote ‘yes’ to the changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Unison’s leadership has this week issued leaflets and posters urging members to vote yes for the pension reforms, arguing that “these proposals give most LGPS members – especially women and low paid workers who are the majority of members – a better pension deal”.

However, the higher education service group executive has issued its own leaflet urging members to vote ‘no’ and criticising planned increases in retirement age and the use of the consumer price index, rather than the retail price index, to uprate pensions.

The proposals for a new pension scheme, which has been dubbed “LGPS 2014” because the aim is to implement it in two years’ time, include a switch from final salary pensions to one based on career average earnings.

Other changes proposed include contribution increases for the highest paid, improved protections for outsourced workers and a new deal for part-time workers so they no longer have to pay contributions based on their full time equivalent salaries.

Of Unison’s 378 local government branches in England and Wales, representing the areas affected by the pension changes, 71% responded. Of those responding, 82% supported the reforms, 10% opposed the changes and 8% either abstained, were evenly split or submitted no response to the consultation.

By region, branches in the north were the most supportive of the proposal with all branches responding to the consultation and all supporting the reforms. Support in the south east, south west and east Midlands topped 90%.

The most opposition was seen amongst branches in Greater London, where 41% opposed the plans, and the region’s response rate was also low, at 54%.

 No of branches% respondedSupport proposalsOppose proposalsOther response
Eastern5066%73%6%21%
East Midlands4484%92%8%0%
Greater London4154%55%41%5%
Northern12100%100%0%0%
North West4881%74%15%10%
South East7268%94%6%0%
South West3376%92%0%8%
Wales2696%80%4%16%
West Midlands3135%82%9%9%
Yorkshire & Humberside2171%80%7%13%
      
England & Wales Total37871%82%10%8%

 

GMB, Unite, other unions and the LGA are also consulting members about the changes before the Department for Communities & Local Government launches a formal consultation in the Autumn.

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