Sunday, March 04, 2012

Pensions - What Next for Pensions in the Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations?

After the opening session of the 2012 UNISON Community Seminar we split into 4 workshops :- Facility time; Health and Safety; Challenging Racism in the Workplace (based on a new branch toolkit) and Pensions. I went to the Pensions workshop and helped out UNISON Pension guru Glyn Jenkins (left) as a SGE member.

The workshop was (understandably) dominated by the future of the Local Government Pension and the NHS pension scheme. Glyn brought the workshop up to date on the proposed changes. Even though negotiations are still ongoing so he was not yet able to give definitive answers to all questions. I collated a survey filled out by members of the workshop. Out of 26 people present, the average age was 45 (3 years younger than the average UNISON member), the average amount of pensionable service was only 15 years, the age they expected to retire was  63 and 4 had no pension whatsoever. One person put down he wanted to retire at 23! Most had been promoted in their first 10 years of service and did not expect to be promoted during the rest of their career. Interestingly Glyn thought on the basis of this survey that most of us would benefit from a CARE (career average pension scheme).

It was a pity that there was not more time to discuss the Social Housing Pension Scheme, auto-enrolling or other urgent pension issues specific to our sector.

UPDATE: Someone has emailed me to ask what happened over the "template" emergency conference motions over the Pension dispute attacking the Service Group Executive (SGE)? They were ruled out of order (they were basically identical and clearly inaccurate) by the elected lay Standing Orders Committee (SOC).  The SOC offered a 30 minute open discussion on the issue. The SOC reported was passed overwhelmingly but delegates voted to reject the offer to have the "discussion" and to support the decision made by their Service Group Executive (I declare an interest).
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