Superannuation Bill

Memorandum from Kathleen Watson (SU 24)

1. I am a member of the Government Office Network (an employee of the Government Office for the North East) which is subject to closure and I face a significant risk of compulsory redundancy.

2. I am 51 years old and work as an Executive Officer. I was employed by the Department for Employment from January 1976 until June1984. I was employed by the Department for Trade & Industry at the Employment Tribunals from January 1992 until July 2000, at ACAS from July 2000 to July 2002, and at the Government Office for the North East from July 2002 to date. I have worked part time for most of the earlier years of my career in the Civil Service to accommodate bringing up a family and child care issues.

3. The cap proposed in the Bill will result in a reduction of two thirds of my existing entitlement. I think this is grossly unfair as throughout my employment within the Civil Service I have always believed that my existing agreed contract could not be changed without my authority. I have planned my life, finances, mortgage etc around my agreed terms and conditions in my contract, safe in the knowledge (or so I thought!), that if I were ever to be made redundant I would have some financial security. As a result of the Bill’s removal of what I consider to be my accrued and legal rights I will face financial hardship through no fault of my own. I do not understand how my employer can change a major part of my contract without my authority. Had I known this I may have had second thoughts about devoting so many years of my life to the Civil Service.

4. My husband (who is 58 years old) is a manual worker, is currently working short time and is under threat of redundancy. I support my son financially as he is studying medicine at Edinburgh University which is a 5 year course. Even with his student loans and his part time job he would find it extremely difficult to live, study and pay his fees in Edinburgh, (probably the most expensive city in the country outside of London), without my continued financial support. My mortgage will not be paid off until I am 60. I have given continued excellent service and worked extremely hard in the Civil Service for many years and it angers me greatly that at the age of 51 there is a distinct possibility that to keep some sort of roof over my head I may have to sell my house to enable me to pay my mortgage, to help fund my son’s education, and to pay the bills. This would be through no fault of my own and would be directly due to the reduction of my existing entitlement.

5. Under my current terms I would receive a minimum of 6 months pay compensation, pension payable immediately and a pension lump sum. Under the proposed terms I would only receive 15 months pay for voluntary redundancy and 12 months pay for compulsory redundancy. My current salary is £22,103.68

6. Given the current economic and employment position in the regions (especially in the north east) and the North East's heavy dependency on the public sector, finding alternative employment will be extremely difficult if not impossible.

September 2010