Superannuation Bill

Memorandum submitted by Margaret Lancaster (SU 28)

My name is Mrs Margaret P Lancaster and I started work in the Civil Service 33 years ago as a Casual AA in December 1977 with the North East Regional Office of what was then the Department of Trade and Industry.  I was made permanent in April 1978 and have had been promoted twice, to CO and then EO during my long service.  I have held a variety of posts, including briefing Government Ministers, as well as the Regional Minister, and organising visits for Ministers and Overseas Trade Officers and currently work on the Planning Team of Government Office for the North East dealing with the Government's Call in policy on planning applications, amongst other duties. 

 Further background to my Civil Service career is that I took maternity leave from March 1991 until February 1992, and then was lucky enough to enjoy a 5/6 year Career Break whilst I brought up my two children.  I returned to work in June 1997 as a full time EO, until December of the same year when I reduced my hours to 20.  From 25 September 2006 until 31 August 2009 I worked 28 hours, before returning to full time working from September 2009 to date.  I earned £23,582, before the August pay rise.

My reckonable service from 3 April 1978 until 1 April 2009 is 20 years and 212 days.  My pension details are as follows:

Pension to April 2009 - £6,014

Lump Sum - £18,044

Projected pension:  at 55 with 24 years 188 days - £5,391

Lump sum - £17,810

at 60  with 28 years 110 days - £8,178

Lump sum - £24,536

at 65 with 32 years 31 days - £9,272

Lump sum £27,816.

The cap will result in a reduction of two thirds of my existing entitlement.  I returned to full time working last year, as my children had both gone into further education.  It was my intention to work until I was 60 so as to get the pension I would accrue according to the age 60 protection above, whilst helping to fund my two children through their courses.  As a member of the Government Office Network which is subject to closure, I am now facing a significant risk of compulsory redundancy.  Given the current economic and employment position in the regions, in Newcastle in particular, and the North East's heavy dependency on the public sector, I believe finding alternative employment will be extremely difficult.   Consequently, as a result of the Bills removal of what are considered to be my accrued rights I will be facing severe  financial hardship through no fault of my own.   I will be unable to help my children financially, so they will need to access more funding via loans - something we have all been at great pains to avoid -  and cease to be financially independent from my husband.   As for getting another job, as I am now 51, I do wonder about whether I would be offered another job at my age and also at what salary, except much lower than I am presently earning.  As I am unlikely to be earning I will not be spending so not contributing to the economic recovery of the North East, and ultimately to the country.  No money for me equals no spending.

 

I  would like to point out that no other employer would be allowed to tear up my contract, breach my contract or has access to changing legislation in order to have their own way.  Private sector employees, and employers for that matter, have legislation to protect them if they found themselves in my circumstance, or tried to treat their employees the same way as my employer is wanting  to treat me.  Therefore this Bill cannot be morally, or legally right. 

 I don't know enough about laws and legislation, but I assume that my Human Rights would also be breached if this Bill gains Royal Assent.  I think that my terms and conditions could be viewed as a possession and if they are taken away from me then my human rights have been breached.  Also why should I after 33 years loyal and hard working service, to both Labour and Conservative Governments, be treat in the same way as someone who has less service than me.  Surely this is against the Equality and Age Discrimination laws.

 Should this proposed Money Bill make it onto the statue books it will not apply to any other sectors, just the civil service.  Surely this is further discrimination as it will mean that the civil service employers will be able to treat their workforce differently from other employers whether they are in the public sector or not!

September 2010