Government to stop LGPS for councillors

19 Dec 12
Ministers are to consult on closing councillors’ access to the Local Government Pension Scheme from April 2014, it emerged today.

By Vivienne Russell | 19 December 2012

Ministers are to consult on closing councillors’ access to the Local Government Pension Scheme from April 2014, it emerged today.

In a written ministerial statement, local government minister Brandon Lewis said taxpayer-funded pensions were not justified for elected members.

‘Councillors are volunteers undertaking public service; they are not and should not be employees of the council dependent on the municipal payroll,’ he said.

‘Every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to help pay off the deficit inherited from the last administration. Local government grants are being reduced. Ministers have cut and then frozen their salaries. Public sector pensions, including parliamentary pensions, are being reformed to reduce the burden on taxpayers. It is only right that councillors do their bit.’

Councillors were allowed to join the LGPS under changes made by the previous government in 2003. It is estimated that around 4,500 councillors have pensions in the scheme and that ending their LGPS benefits could save £7m.

Lewis added: ‘There is absolutely no case for increasing councillor allowances to compensate. Instead, councils may want to consider earlier, voluntary closure of the scheme to their councillors as a sensible saving.’

According to the statement, those councillors would have their accrued rights up to April 2014 fully protected, but would not be able to accrue any further benefits after that date. Elected mayors, however, would be able to remain in the scheme ‘as a voluntary option (but not as an expectation), subject to local scrutiny’.

The salaries of the mayor of London, London Assembly members, and police and crime commissioners would remain pensionable.

The proposal will be considered alongside wider changes to the LGPS in a consultation that will begin ‘in due course’.

The Welsh Government will be consulted over access to the LGPS by councillors in Wales.

The Taxpayers' Alliance, which has highlighted the number of councillors enrolled in the LGPS, called the move 'great news'.

Chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: 'Not only will this deliver a significant saving for hard-pressed families, it will also restore people's faith that councillors are there to represent the residents of a local ward rather than forge a career as a professional politician.

'Receiving allowances is not the same as pensionable pay, and the fact that many local authorities allow councillors to enrol on the scheme calls into question the voluntary nature of participating in local government.'


CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?