Superannuation Bill

Memorandum submitted by Christopher Hamilton (SU 11)

1. I joined the MoD in 1972 and chose family stability instead of mobility which carried with it the increased prospect of promotion. Despite my length of service I am still therefore employed in one of the lower Civil Service grades. I accepted this on the basis that I would receive a reasonable pension at the end of my service and, should the unthinkable happen and I be made redundant I would receive sufficient financial cushion to allow me to find alternative employment without losing my house or suffering severe financial hardship. I made a life choice based on the terms and conditions offered by the Civil Service, I did not expect that after 38 years of loyal service these terms could be removed at the stroke of a pen.

2. Last month my job ended and I now find myself in the redeployment pool for the first time in my career. I have applied for the only job to appear in this area at my grade over many months and should I not be successful I will remain in the redeployment pool with no work for some time to come.

3. I am willing to accept, and have applied for Voluntary Early Retirement, taking only the pension I have accrued to date with no compensation lump sum or enhancement of service and take my chances in the local employment market but the Superannuation Bill is set to remove that option. The compensation payable under the new scheme will be so little as to preclude me from leaving the Department on these new terms and I will continue to draw my full salary until an opportunity arises within the department locally or I am dismissed on grounds of compulsory redundancy. I will then join the job seekers whose ranks will grow exponentially when tens if not hundreds of thousands of my colleagues are also made redundant.

4. I should point out that obtaining another job is unlikely given that within a month the outcome of the Strategic Defence and Security Review will be announced and over the following 12 months I will find myself one of a great many in the MoD redeployment pool. Many of the other Civil Service Departments are already cutting back their numbers in this area and so redeployment to these has not been a feasible alternative and is unlikely to become so. Doors are closing in every direction.

5. I am now 55 years of age and find that the compensation that I would be entitled to related to this length of service is about to be removed and replaced with a system which will lead to me receiving the same figure as someone with half that service. I cannot see how it can be argued that this is NOT an accrued right as compensation is related to age and reckonable service and it has taken me 38 years to accrue. Furthermore the new system would appear to be age discriminatory against me and the many others in my situation or about to join me.

6. I am also appalled at the manner in which this legislation has been rushed through Parliament using the vehicle of a Money Bill and thus denying Parliament the opportunity of full debates. It is difficult to envisage how the Speaker was persuaded to agree that the Superannuation Bill meets the definition of a Money Bill and it should therefore be struck out for this reason alone.

7. I believe that there is hardly anyone in this country who is not aware of the financial constraints that face the Government, as not a day passes without some mention on the news of the latest casualty of the crisis. Arguments have raged since the collapse of the major banks as to who was responsible and I will not rehearse these arguments here. What I do know beyond any doubt is that I and my colleagues in the Civil Service are not in any way to blame yet we are under attack for our "gold plated pension and redundancy schemes". Whilst I will not deny that these schemes are more favourable than many, I joined the Civil Service knowing that I would have to accept a lesser salary for the same work in exchange for these packages, indeed I joined on a 16 year incremental scale which was truly laughable to my fellow school leavers. If now is the time to review these packages, then by all means do so for any new entrants. The Civil Service has introduced three new Pension Schemes in the last eight years, each less favourable than the last and any new entrants joining were aware that these were the provisions of the Scheme when they joined, but please do not remove the accrued rights, for that is what they surely are, for those long serving Civil Servants whose work the MPs on both sides of the House who spoke in the recent second reading of the Bill unanimously praised.

September 2010