Unions should accept fair deal on pensions

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PEOPLE are living longer and the cost of pensions has increased by a third over the last decade to £32bn.

Virtually all of these costs fall on the taxpayer.

Without reform we are heading towards an unbearable burden being placed on people who will have to pay for their parents’ retirement on top of paying off a toxic legacy of national debt.

After months of talk with the trade unions we have put a generous pensions offer on the table that it is also fair and affordable to other taxpayers.

But instead of engaging with us to agree on the best deal for their members, unions have rushed into ballots on industrial action.

It’s clear their members feel they have jumped the gun, and that’s why members of the biggest public sector unions are not turning out to vote for this action.

We want to appeal to every public servant to consider the offer we’re making before taking to the streets.

Most public sector workers will see no reduction in their pension. We believe the public will find it unacceptable if unions push forward with any kind of action on November 30.

We urge the unions to consider the offer on the table seriously.

Although reform is inevitable because people are living longer, we still want to ensure that public sector workers continue to have access to pension schemes that are among the very best available. Our fair and affordable offer means that:

Most public sector workers will see no reduction in the pension they receive at retirement. In fact, many low and middle income earners will actually receive a larger pension income at retirement.

The benefits people have built up so far will be protected, and they will continue to receive a guaranteed benefit in retirement.

The Government has listened to the concerns of public sector workers, and made its proposals more generous, allowing pensions to grow faster.

And any worker within ten years of retirement will see no change in the age they can retire, and no change in the amount of pension they will receive when they retire.

After all these reforms, people in the public sector will still have better pensions than people in the private sector. We urge the unions to act responsibly and take this offer.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham and Minister for the Cabinet Office