Plans to block councillors’ access to LGPS confirmed

11 Mar 14
Councillors are to be barred from the Local Government Pension Scheme when new scheme rules are introduced next month, ministers have confirmed.

By Richard Johnstone | 11 March 2014 

Councillors are to be barred from the Local Government Pension Scheme when new scheme rules are introduced next month, ministers have confirmed.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis today published regulations on the transition to the new scheme, which will introduce a new defined benefit based on career average salary rather than final pay, and a higher retirement age. The changes are being implemented by the Public Service Pensions Act following negotiations between the government and trade unions.

Publishing the regulations, Lewis confirmed in a written ministerial statement the decision to exclude councillors from the LGPS would be implemented.

‘The regulations we have laid also abolish such taxpayer-funded pensions for new councillors in England and other elected office holders from April 1 2014, and terminate access for existing councillors at the end of their current fixed term of office – for example, from May 2014, in relation to councillors with elections this year,’ he said.

The regulations also confirm that accrued benefits will be retained, and that any scheme members within 10 years of their normal retirement age on March 31 2012 would be protected from the changes.

Lewis said the introduction of the new LGPS, which will be in place a year before similar reforms are introduced in other public sector schemes, was a major achievement.

‘We are very grateful to the Local Government Association, the scheme’s shadow advisory board and other key interested parties for the help and co-operation they have given to ensure the successful implementation of the new scheme,’ he added.

‘Taken together, I believe these necessary reforms deliver on the coalition government’s pledge to reform public sector pensions and provide a fair deal for public service workers and taxpayers.’

But the decision drew an angry response from the LGA. ‘This is a kick in the teeth for those who have dedicated their life to public service and undermines government’s commitment to give local people greater responsibility for the running of vital local services,’ said LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell.

‘It is perplexing that ministers who have been busy adding to the workload of councillors by transferring functions from central to local government are now arguing that those same councillors – and the Mayor of London – should be classed as volunteers.’

He noted that, of the 700 responses to the government’s consultation, only two were from members of the public who objected to councillors being members of the LGPS.

‘This is the wrong decision and will create a double standard where councillors in England will be denied a pension scheme which councillors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will still be a part of. We will be urging government to listen to the feedback from its consultation and think again,’ Cockell added.


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