Superannuation Bill

Memorandum submitted by Carol Ashworth (SU 44)

I am a married woman of 47 years old, and have worked in the Civil Service for 24 years, beginning as a Graduate Entrant to the Department for Health and Social Security at Executive Officer level in 1986.

1. During that time, I have been employed by a number of agencies and departments both in the North East of England, in the South East and in Scotland , ( where we moved to in order to find work in the Eighties) : Jobcentre Plus, the Department for Works and Pensions, the Home Office, and now the Department for Education.

2. I became a Higher Executive Officer on promotion, taking up post in the Government Office for the North East in 2001, with subsequent promotion on merit to the Senior Executive Officer grade in 2004.

3. I am very proud of my achievements in the Civil Service over the years and of the adults, children and young people, I have directly supported to lead better lives and achieve better outcomes.

4. Through no fault of my own, the Government has arrived at a decision to abolish the Government Office Network of offices across England . I understand that decision and the need to be supportive of the state’s financial position. A s a result of this , I am on the brink of a significant risk of compulsory redundancy , which is a terrifying position to be in.

5. My son begins University in one week ’s time. I was relying upon my wage to help support him over those three years of essential study . Th e Student Finance loan will only just cover his accommodation, and not any living or stud ent expenses , such as books .

6. I have seven years left to pay on my mortgage. I am reliant upon mine and my husband’s wage to continue to afford t o keep our terraced home in rural Northumberland that we moved to nine years ago .

7. We are contributors to the maintenance of th e rural economy in our county , as we consciously shop locally , support ing local food producers and the farming community surr ound ing the village.

8. The North East, through no fault of its own, has been heavily reliant upon the public sector, with almost 60% of the community in the nearby, relatively affluent town , Morpeth, employed in that sector.

9. Approaching 50, I am fearful of my opportunities to secure alternative work anywhere in the north east of England , given the impacts on the economy of the spending cuts, particularly across the public sector.

10. To ensure my future I am looking into re-training as a Psychotherapist, as this appears to be a gap in the employment market, however, this will involve a significant investment of my own time and money . No support is available to the public sector for re-training for jobs in the private or civil sectors.

11. Without my due and accrued rights as a Civil Servant , which this bill is threatening to reduce by four-fifths, I will be in a position where I risk losing not only my livelihood, but also my home, and my potential to re-train for a job in another sector.

12. I am also terrified that the result of this bill will j eopard ise my son’s future and, consequently, his ability to continue support the economy , as I and his father have done, as a responsible tax-payer .

13. I n considering our evidence, I want to echo the various recent reported media concerns, and I would a sk you to be mindful of the impact, particularly on the north, of s uch cuts and this Bill across the public sector.

September 2010