Tuesday, 4 March 2008

TaxPayers Alliance again...

I don’t have time to do this in detail, but there’s an understandably defensive piece on the TaxPayers Alliance website now trying to stand up their wobbly report on council pensions. As I predicted, they have taken the fact that the unions disagree with their report as proof that they must have a point.

No vested interests in squeezing as much money out of the taxpayer as possible there, then.

Sophisticated stuff…

The TPA says:

we are well aware that there is a change being made to the pension scheme in April, but it is not enough of a change. It is tinkering round the edges rather than real, fundamental reform of the system.

But they don’t say what specific ‘fundamental reform’ they want. It could be career average, or it could be money purchase, with no indication of what kind of contributions or benefits might be sensible under either type of scheme. All they know is that local government employees must not have final salary pensions. Start with the answer you want, and work back to find a way of getting there.

Given that the TPA moan about spin, here’s a big dollop of their own:

the kind of pensions enjoyed by Local Government staff are in fact so unsustainable and so generous that they are almost extinct in the private sector

Later on they use a similar line:

If these pensions aren't gold-plated, how come they are unaffordable to everyone else?

The problem is that a few seconds research can prove that yet again they are talking rubbish. I have lifted the following sentence from an NAPF press release issued this January:

around a third of private sector defined benefit schemes remain open to new members

So ‘almost extinct’ means ‘a third of the population is still alive’. Strange definition!

Finally they to try and argue that £3,800 (the average LGPS pension quoted by Unison) is a princely sum:

even if we take this average figure it means that local government workers are better provided for than those that struggle to pay council tax.

Except of course that the exact opposite is true. The average occupational pension in payment last time I looked was about £7,600 per year (check out the DWP’s Pensioners’ Incomes Series reports). So actual LGPS pensions in payment are about half the average.

1 comment:

John said...

Heh heh! Good post Tom :)