I WORKED in the public sector (mainly civil service) for more than 30 years.
When I started I was told my pension contribution was 1.5 per cent, but that wages were about five per cent lower than in the private sector to compensate for the pension, making an actual contribution of 6.5 per cent (a hefty amount). This may have changed over the years (most probably in the management levels) – I am not au fait with current wage structures.
The public sector is vast – civil service, local government, health service etc and is full of low paid workers – many have taken these jobs because there was nothing else on offer and the carrot of the pension at the end is no longer the golden handshake the government seems to think it is. Perhaps they only want to look at the top end of the pension payouts?
Successive governments (including the last Labour one) have been aware of the pensions shortfall, but done nothing about it, as to do so would have been political suicide. Now we are faced with draconian measures to set it right.
Since the problem affects everyone, surely the whole of the country should be involved in this cost cutting, from the people on benefits and pensioners through to the highly paid bankers and share dealers who have been happy to bleed this country white in the name of profit (for themselves).
When you see the chancellor is giving inflation proof increases to pensioners and those on benefits, but cutting everyone else (at least the working man and woman on the street), it makes you wonder why you work – especially as it is for much longer, paying more and getting less.
Controversially, pensioners are part of the problem. The problem existed long before many of them retired and they are contributing to the deficit now. Once again, it’s political expedience rather than fairness to all that dictates policy.
In the same autumn statement, while cutting left, right and centre, the chancellor maintained the same levels of overseas aid. It may be all right for this country to go to the wall, so long as we support everyone else. My parents used to say “charity begins at home” and it’s as true today as it was then. Perhaps the politicians should talk more to ordinary people instead of being locked away in their ivory towers (or second homes, as these are known).