"Retirement age for teachers rises to 65 - but will exhausted 60-year-olds be fit enough to cope with the job for 5 more years?" said the headline in the 20th June edition of the TES. It certainly caught your eyes, and our phone started ringing. We - your local NUT Officers - average age 50-something, we're having the same palpitations and suicidal thoughts that you reported.
It didn’t get better if you read the article:
"A paper issued last week by the Department for Work and Pensions suggests that, from 2006, all new entrants to teaching in England and Wales will have to work until 65 to qualify for a full pension.
Serving teachers will also be affected by the changes and only teachers who are now in their late 50s are likely to be exempt."
The document referred to, ‘Simplicity Security and Choice: Working and Saving For Retirement; Action On Occupational Pensions’, is a general document on the future of all occupational pensions. A long way into it, there is a brief section which actually covers the whole of the Public Sector, which confirms the fears expressed by the TES for the treatment of new staff, but is less specific about the treatment of existing staff. It does look, however, as though the Government is looking at a point at which the future contributions of serving teachers would only buy them a pension starting at age 65.
The relevant paragraphs are printed below, with Para 34 being the key one.
Public service pensions
32. The Government has a responsibility, in its role as a large employer, to lead the way in addressing the social and economic consequences of demographic change. Most public servants now have the option to work to age 65. In the Green Paper, we asked for views on the proposal to take this further by making the normal pension age in public service schemes 65 rather than 60.
33. Many responses welcome this change, for example the Institute of Directors strongly endorse this proposal saying: "It would be difficult for the Government to credibly urge business to encourage working beyond 60 if the public sector was unwilling to undergo similar changes." The local authority employers’ pension committee also supports the proposal to raise the pension age to 65 both for new entrants and the future service of existing staff. The TUC and several individual trade unions oppose the change. In addition, over 100 individuals have written expressing concern about the impact on them. These are mainly public servants within their last decade before retirement who are unlikely to be affected given the timescale for the reviews and the need for transitional arrangements.
34. The Government intends to proceed with this proposal through reviews of public service pension schemes and in consultation with employers and employer representatives. Precise timing and details of the reform package will depend on the particular scheme but it is envisaged that by the end of 2006 all new staff will join on the new conditions. The Government has already made it clear that pension rights already accrued from past service would be fully protected. A key task for the scheme reviews will be to decide how the higher pension age will apply to the future service of existing staff and how to ensure that transitional arrangements are fair and balanced.”
Any teacher knows the madness of expecting people to work in this job for 43 or 44 years, except in the most favourable circumstances. Only a handful of teachers retire each year in Bradford at the age of 65. Most of them retire before 60.
We cannot accept these proposals. Nor can any other organisation representing public sector workers. They will be fought.
Expect to hear more from us, and make your own feelings known through all the usual political channels..
The DfES has more information about the proposed pension changes, including some questions and answers, on its website: www.teachernet.gov.uk/educationoverview/briefing/currentstrategy/Pensions
Please sign the petition against the SATs which has been sent into schools with this newsletter. The petition, along with the meetings (see opposite) and the ballot, are all part of the Union’s campaign to stop the SATs.
A small number of people ring the Union office for advice or help only to find out, to their surprise, that they are no longer a member of the Union. The mistake sometimes occurs when people have a break from teaching and forget to renew on their return, or believe they are paying by Direct Debit but have not set this up properly. Some memberships were allowed to accidentally lapse several years ago when the government abolished the facility of deduction at source.
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