What you pay for council workers pensions: £11.3m

Public sector unions strike rally outside Halifax Town Hall
Public sector unions strike rally outside Halifax Town Hall
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THE cost of pensions for Calderdale council workers has risen from £6.6 million a year to £11.3 million since 2006/7.

And by 2013/14 it is expected to reach £11.9 million - equivalent to a 7 per cent rise in council tax bills over that period, according to Conservative group leader Stephen Baines.

When the pensions of administrative staff in schools are taken into account, the total cost to council taxpayers is expected to be closer to £16.8 million.

Councillor Baines (Northowram and Shelf) said householders needed to know what they were being asked to pay in view of the recent strike and ongoing national dispute over public sector pensions.

Councillor John Hardy (Con, Skircoat) told the council that the West Yorkshire Pension Scheme was good and valuable to employers and employees alike.

But whether it was sustainable was another matter, he said.

“Only one in 10 private sector workers has access to a pension approaching those enjoyed by the public sector and the country, and money earners, can no longer contribute more and more for ever increasing pensions costs,” said Coun Hardy (Con, Skircoat).

Labour Councillor Bob Metcalfe (Town), a member of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund board, said the Government’s plan to make council workers pay more for their pensions would encourage some to withdraw from the pension scheme, putting it in jeopardy.

“This is a raid on pensions - not one penny of the £900 million it raises will be invested in local government schemes but will go straight to the treasury.

“I am not surprised that pension fund members are concerned and downright angry,” he said.

Councillor Danielle Coombs (Lab, Ovenden) asked councillors to “commend the very positive and constructive approach” taken by council workers during the recent strike to ensure the vulnerable services users were not affected.

She also wanted the council to put pressure on the Government to re-evaluate the need for £900 million of savings from the Local Government Pension Scheme.

But the council voted overwhelmingly in favour of continued talks to provide a long term solution to providing public sector pensions.