UK Local Government Authority Conference

20 May 2010 UK Local Government Authority Pension Conference discusses cutbacks to Final Salary Pension Schemes. Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes.
But in the UK, pension cuts could soon join that list of certainties as the Government struggles to cope with the burden of an ageing population.

At a UK local authority pensions conference attended by CoreData this week, the mood was pessimistic over the likelihood, if not certainty, of cutbacks following the election and the new Government promise to take an axe to spending.

Delegates from local government accept that changes to their generous final salary pensions are inevitable, but are not happy about it. In particular, the national press was criticised for stories about ‘gold-plated townhall pensions’ when many retired staff receive only a few thousand pounds a year.

The problems of valuing schemes at a particular date are also an issue. One delegate spoke to the local Taxpayers Alliance going ‘absolutely ballistic’ when the latest funding figures come out and the need to explain how and why more funding is needed for their local authority’s pension fund.

Hopefully an address from former mayor of London and Labour maverick Ken Livingstone will have cheered delegates.

He told CoreData the Government should not cut investment, which was needed to improve infrastructure, but should raise taxes instead. Other controversial views from Livingstone were that London ought to become an independent city state (”the rest of the country hates London”), no-one should earn more than £200,000 a year, centrist governments had consistently failed to deliver change and that the new coalition would save Britain from the homicidal tendencies of some Conservatives.

Perhaps after a few years of spending cuts and austerity, Livingstone will appeal to voters.

Certainly, he is keen to come back as mayor of London and is unafraid to say what he thinks. That could go down well in the future, if spending cuts bite as hard as many expect them too.

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