Superannuation Bill

Memorandum submitted by Alan McBride (SU 38)

1.0 Introduction

1.1 My interest in this bill is that it has a significant impact on me as a civil service employee with 25 years service. I am employed by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in Newcastle upon Tyne.

2.0 Objections

I object to this bill for the following reasons:

2.1 Reason 1

The bill, if enacted, will change my terms and conditions of employment without consultation or negotiation by my employer.

When I began work for the Department of Health and Social Security in 1985 I had a very clear and explicit understanding of what compensation would be paid if I was to be made redundant. The deal I signed up to was very clear. Having been given an undertaking that these arrangements were in place has had two very tangible consequences.

2.1.1 Firstly, as a result of this understanding I did not take out any personal insurance against redundancy.

2.1.2 Secondly, I have not pursued potential alternative employment opportunities at various points in my career because the security provided by the clearly stated compensation arrangements outweighed the extra salary I could have earned elsewhere.

2.1.3 For me this bill has the effect of changing the rules halfway through the game and is taking away something tangible that I had a very reasonable expectation would be available if a redundancy situation ever arose. This has guided important decisions at a number of key points in my life.

2.2 Reason 2

A thorough Equality Impact Assessment has not been undertaken. The bill has an unequal and disproportionate impact on people aged over 50.

2.2.1 For example, I am 50 years old and the compensation arrangements, currently in place provides, in the event of compulsory redundancy, immediate payment of a pension enhanced by six and two third years. This was an important safety net that meant I would be able to take a job with lower pay. At 50 I will find it difficult to be re-trained and attract a level of pay commensurate with my experience and to meet the level of commitments I have taken on with the reasonable expectation that if I was to be made redundant a particular compensation would be paid.

2.2.2 The impact of the bill is much greater on me than on someone in a younger age group. Those with less than 10-15 years service are unlikely to have received a payment that would exceed the proposed cap in any event.

2.3 Reason 3

2.3.1 The bill proposes that employees who are made compulsorily redundant through no fault or action on their part should be paid less compensation than those who choose to become unemployed by volunteering for redundancy. This may work well for a small number of people who have limited commitments or have been able to identify replacement jobs but for the overwhelming majority of people with families or financial commitments it would be completely wrong for them to volunteer for unemployment unless there was absolutely no choice.

2.3.2 To reward this potentially reckless behaviour appears to be inconsistent with government values and an inappropriate approach for the government as an exemplar employer.

2.4 Reason 4

2.4.1 Parliament is unable to assess the full impact of this bill because it is not being provided with all the relevant information. The Cabinet Office Minister (Second reading, 7 September) has stated that it is intended to negotiate the level of the cap with Trade Unions. It seems wrong for parliament to pass a bill without knowing the outcome of any negotiations. The level of the proposed cap e.g. 12 months, 15 months or more or less is very relevant in understanding the impact of the bill. The bill should not be presented to Parliament without that information.

September 2010