Superannuation Bill

Memorandum submitted by Sharon Maral (SU 37)

1. I am a 44 year old female Civil Servant and have worked for my current organisation, Government Office for the North East for a little under 13 years. My parent Department is CLG and current post is that of SEO Business Manager for the Environment Group, which covers planning, transport, housing, DECC and Defra agendas.

2. I have been a loyal Civil Servant for almost 23 years, working in a variety of roles, at a number of locations and for a several different Government Departments. This has included Property Services Agency in London, Property Holdings Midlands, Building Regulations Policy and various posts within Government Office for the North East.

3. I joined the Civil Service after I graduated from Sheffield University with a First Class Degree. My main reason for joining the Service was that it would provide me with a challenging and varied career, with the intention that it would develop and continue until my retirement, although the salary was not particularly high. However, there were other benefits and working conditions that offset the lower earning potential offered. This clearly included greater job security, a good pension to look forward to in my old age and of course, if all else failed, strong redundancy arrangements.

4. Unfortunately life has not quite worked out as planned and I now find myself in the position where I am not only facing a very real threat of redundancy, following the Government’s in principle decision to abolish the Government office Network, but also I am in the position that should the Superannuation Bill be successful, the redundancy package I will receive will be significantly less than I would have expected as part of my contractual terms and conditions of service and as set out in the current Civil Service Pension Scheme, which was as I mentioned above one of the deciding factors in my career choice.

5. This hardly seems fair on its own, but this lack of fairness is even more stark when considering that redundancy packages offered to Government Office for London staff were more generous than under the proposed Bill, simply because their decision was taken early into the current Administration. This compares unfavourably to the position other Government Offices outside of London find themselves in, where the final decision on abolition is pending the outcome of the Spending Review, the timescale for which appears to mesh well with the timeline for implementation of the Superannuation Bill.

6. In addition to this position, it also needs to be recognised that the current economic and employment position in the region , coupled with the North East's heavy dependency on the public sector will make finding alternative employment challenging to say the least . Government Office North East citizens are unlikely to be redeployed to other Government departments in the region, who themselves are facing cut backs and redundancies. Added to this is the fact that job cuts are expected across the public sector so competition for scarce vacancies will be fierce.

7. Working elsewhere and actively seeking alternative employment do not frighten me. Indeed, I have previously applied for Voluntary Early Severance on two occasions in the previous 5 years, but was turned down on the basis of my skills being too valuable to the Organisation. Clearly had I been successful on either of these occasions I would have left on significantly better financial terms (around 3 times my salary rather than 15 months) and also during a period when the economy in the Region was stronger and employment prospects better.

8. In relation to my own individual circumstances, I am a single parent with a 12 year old daughter. I have always been fiercely independent and have been fortunate never having to rely on benefits of any kind. It is with deep sadness that I face an extremely uncertain future, through no fault of my own and at the hands of an employer to whom I have given so much.

9. 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. From my perspective this raises issues of fairness of treatment, unilateral amendment of my contract of employment and the decimation of a significant element of my terms and conditions of my employment.

September 2010