Sir Humphrey’s Legacy: facing up to the cost of public sector pensions


Government and Institutions

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Neil Record calculates the burden of public sector pensions and offers a policy solution.
Whilst private sector pension schemes have been closing down rapidly in the last few years, public sector employees continue to enjoy “gold plated” benefits. In addition, rates of ill health retirement in public sector pension schemes are extremely high. Proposed reforms to public sector schemes will make little difference to the benefits available to new employees and no difference at all to benefits of existing employees.

Private sector taxpayers have to meet the cost of public sector pensions, so how has this divide between the standard of private and public sector pensions arisen? Part of the answer lies in the fact that the costs of public sector schemes are not properly accounted for.

In this monograph, Neil Record estimates that public sector pension liabilities are about £1trillion – but the government publishes estimates of the liabilities of only half this level.

The author argues that nothing can be done to deal with the liability accrued so far, but that action can be taken to make costs transparent in the future. If costs are made transparent we can start to change the nature of public sector schemes, to the benefit of workers and taxpayers alike.

Further reform proposals are discussed by commentators Philip Booth and Nick Silver.

‘This is a valuable contribution to a debate which can no longer be postponed.’ David Laws MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary

2006, ISBN 978 0 255 36578 9, 128pp, PB

See also:
The Way Out of the Pensions Quagmire by Philip Booth and Deborah Cooper
Sir Humphrey’s Legacy: An Update by Neil Record

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