There was 9am start for workshops on 1. Mental Health & Hidden Disabilities 2. Pensions 3. Deepening Engagement in your UNISON.
I went to the workshop run by the UNISON Pensions manager, Glyn Jenkins.
Glyn is a very respected figure in the union and the wider pension world.
He started by reminding us how important pensions are by asking the question if life assurance is to protect against death? What is the purpose of pensions? The answer of course is to protect against the risk of living.
Some of the other key points :-
1/3 of pensioners entitled to Pension credit top up by the government do not claim. This is an incredible figure and no doubt will include many retired UNISON members who are struggling to survive.
You need to have paid “qualifying” national insurance contributions for at least 10 years to get any state pension and 35 years for a full amount (some protections). If you are short of years it may be worth your while to pay extra. If you pay around £700 for an extra year you could get an extra £5 per week (inflation linked) for the rest of your life.
If you get the chance to join a public service defined benefit pension you should do so. Currently employers pay 20.6% of pay into the NHS pension scheme. The minimum employer contribution to an auto enrolment pension scheme is only 2%. While many pay in more, UNISON recommend that employers should pay at least 10%.
I had to leave the workshop early to go and speak at the engagement workshop with my NEC colleague, Denise Thomas. Glyn is planning to put on the UNISON website some of the slides he used. I will link to this when it is made available.