Superannuation Bill

Memorandum submitted by Karen Wrigley (SU 33)


1. This submission contains evidence regarding the implications of the Superannuation Bill on a 47 Year Old Civil Servant with 29 years of service working in the Government Office for the North East. In particular this document makes the point that the imposition of this Bill clearly raises the question of equity of treatment under human rights for those individuals caught up in the period of the Bill under which there will be no scope for arbitration or negotiation of redundancy/pension terms. I assert that Individuals who come under redundancy arrangements during the period of force of the Bill would be unfairly and greatly disadvantaged.


Detailed Comments

2. I am coming up to 46 years old and currently employed by Government Office North East. In the summer, the CLG Minister announced the ‘in principle’ decision to close the Government Office (GO) Network. There is a very significant risk of me being made compulsory redundant. I have worked in the Civil Service since 1981 and have now amassed some 29 years service, originally being employed by the Department of Trade and Industry before it joined up with other Departments to form Government Office for the North East. I have given loyal and committed service to various governments, implementing and advising on national policy, providing Ministerial briefing and supporting Ministers on visits and acting as a conduit between central government and the region.

3. We are still awaiting formal notification of the GO’s being abolished and expect this to be announced after the Spending Review which, in line with proposals to implement the Superannuation Bill pose serious implications for GO staff both in terms of career prospects and redundancy entitlements.

4. T he current economic and employment position in the region and the North East's heavy dependency on the public sector means that finding alternative employment will be extremely difficult. Indeed, research by accountants UHY Hacker Young ( ) shows that Middlesbrough and Newcastle – the two largest towns/cities in the North East come second and third in the table of towns and cities with the biggest percentage of their workforce in the public sector . It has been reported that the private sector will also be adversely affected by public sector cuts. Whilst there has been some mention of repatriating GO staff back to their parent departments, my parent dept (BIS) has very little presence in the North East. Government Office North East citizens have less likelihood of being redeployed to other Government departments in the region, who themselves are facing cut backs and redundancies. All this means that the jobs market in the region will shrink dramatically over the next 12 months and it could take years for it to pick up. People being made redundant now face many years of unemployment which will exacerbate the North/South divide.

5. A key issue for me with regards the Superannuation bill, is that as a result of the Bills removal of what I consider to be accrued rights, I will be facing severe financial hardship through no fault of my own. Throughout my employment as a Civil Servant, I have paid into the PCS Compensation scheme in the good faith, based on the terms and conditions that I entered into when I joined the Civil Service. I do not consider it fair or transparent to simply take an autocratic stance and remove those terms and conditions with, what will be, immediate effect. Surely it would have been fairer to introduce a transitional scheme spread over a few years based on full consultation and negotiation with the very staff that it concerns. I appreciate that this is heralded as a temporary arrangement and that the Government hopes that it will not need to use the legislation which begs the question why waste time and money rushing it through parliament as opposed to sitting down with staff and the unions to come to a agreement which is reasonable and fair to both sides. The arguments for why this should not go forward as a Money bill were made very eloquently in the House of Commons at its second reading and I would urge the decision makers to take full cognisance of this.

6. With regards my own redundancy and pension rights, I wish to draw to your attention to the fact that these are clearly stated in the Pension Choices: Understanding your Choices leaflet published in January 2002 (PDF document attached as appendix 1) when the pension scheme changed and individuals were required to opt for their pension scheme type. Page 39 states the entitlements that individuals would receive in the event of a redundancy situation.

7. On a personal level, the implications of the Superannuation Bill and proposed redundancy cap will result in a reduction of two thirds of my existing entitlement (I would have been entitled to three years pay) and will cause me severe financial hardship especially bearing in mind that I will struggle to find employment in the current climate and it could take me a few years to find a nother job, let alone a comparable job . I am a single parent and had to take on a large mortgage to house myself and my two children – a house which I will have to sell or risk repossession when I lose my job. There will be no chance of me being able to access social housing as the waiting lists will rocket to meet the demand following other former public sector workers facing repossession. My eldest is due to go to University next year and ordinarily, I would have supported him through this financially. I am no longer able to do this and we will have to seriously reconsider whether it is worth him furthering his education bearing in mind the huge debts he will accrue. The implications of this Superannuation bill leave me with ser ious financial implications not only for myself but also for my family .

8. Like many others, I stayed in the Civil Service when I could have had a change of career (and earned more money) as it was my understanding that my terms and conditions would be honoured should the worst happen and I was made redundant. Had I known that th ese rights would be taken away without any consultation or negotiation, I would have left when I was much younger and able to retrain and start another career. I cannot get those years back and I fear that if I do re-train and go down a new career path, I will face age discrimination when trying to find a new job .

9. The principle argument in this submission is that the imposition of the proposed Superannuation Bill would remove long standing rights and effectively make the terms inequitable for people who have been allowed to leave under redundancy terms prior to and potentially after the term of the Bill. This clearly raises the question of equity of treatment under human rights for those individuals caught up in the period of the Bill under which there will be no scope for arbitration or negotiation of redundancy/pension terms. This clearly means such individuals who come under redundancy arrangements during the period of force of the Bill would be unfairly and greatly disadvantaged.

September 2010