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Postponement of NHS pension contributions hike for lower paid

An extra 530,000 lower paid staff have been spared from making extra pension contributions next year after the Department of Health made a concession in the long-running pensions dispute.

The threshold for freezing NHS pension scheme contributions will be raised from £15,000 to £26,557 for 2012-13. However, higher earners will still have to pay more.

Those earning £26,558 to £48,982 will contribute 1.5 per cent more and those earning £48,983 and more will contribute 2.4 per cent more.

The DH said the number of staff spared the higher contributions would rise from 100,000 to 630,000.

A DH spokeswoman previously told Nursing Times only 100,000 staff would benefit from the announcement.

No details were given about contributions from 2013-14 onwards, which are the subject of ongoing talks.

The DH said the move would prevent a situation where someone earning £60,000 contributed a lower proportion of their salary to their pension after tax relief than someone earning £15,000. This problem had been highlighted by NHS Employers in its consultation response.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Having listened to staff and stakeholders, we have improved our proposals so that an extra 530,000 NHS staff will not pay any more into their pensions next year.

“Public service pensions will remain among the very best available, providing a guaranteed pension level for all employees – today very few private sector employers still offer this.  But people are living longer and pensions are costing taxpayers more and more every year.”

However, he added: “These changes alone will not be enough to ensure that NHS pensions are affordable in the long term.”

Mr Lansley said he still hoped to reach agreement with unions on wider changes to pensions by the end of the year.

The DH announcement came after between 79,000 and 400,000 NHS staff walked out on strike on 30 November.

However, Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of the union Unite which has 100,000 NHS members, criticised the government for its “divide and rule” negotiating strategy on public sector pensions.

She said “middle earners”, including health visitors, would still pay more and criticised ministers for “bypassing the agreed negotiating channels”.

“In its haste to sell this as good news, government is also failing to state what it plans for years two and three. It will press on as before, so this is a swindle and a short-lived one at that,” she added.

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, said: “This is yet another divisive and provocative move by the government and means that more than two thirds of nurses will now face further increased pensions contributions.

“The truth is these increased contributions will not go into the NHS pension scheme, but will go to the Treasury to help pay off deficits that nurses and healthcare assistants have had no part in creating.”

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said she was “beginning to question” whether ministers were “serious about reaching a deal”.

“We are in the middle of tricky negotiations where the goalposts keep moving and where the timetable looks increasingly unrealistic,” she said.

But NHS Employers director Dean Royles said he hoped the move would “create an environment where we can have substantive discussions on the broader issue of pension reform”.

He said: “Hard choices had to be made and the change ensures that those staff on lower salaries, who provide a significant amount of patient contact, are protected from further costs in the second year of a period of pay restraint.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • I will be paying an extra £50 per month into the scheme, my Trust has cut its retention premium of £50 per month, and pay is to increase by much less than inflation....
    I reckon next year I will be about £2000 poorer.
    Oddly I am doing longer hours and seem to be taking work home.
    Time for Trusts to applaud and reward the staff rather than trying to demoralise them with pay cuts.

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  • Here we go ! Split the strength of our protest

    I am a band 7 ward manager Paying £175 per month towards my pension with these proposals I will be expected to pay a further £85 £260 in total. I already earn less than my Band 6 deputy due to ACF without counting any of her unsocial shift allowances Wont be long before I pay them for the privilige of working long hours in a stressfull environment leading a large team, ensuring high standards of care

    Dont be fooled, Dont buy into the trap of thinking I am ok. You may be in my position sooner than you think when all us worn out, Knackered, overpaid (what a joke) experienced staff retire - if we live that long

    Stay strong because despite all the lies being spoken by this minority elected so called Govt This is only the 1st stage of being made scapegoats for their banking buddies

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  • This appears to be all about splitting the professional and non-professional staff in the NHS. The professional staff historically have not gone on strike whereas there has not always been this reluctance amongst the hard working support staff.
    It is essential the membership sticks together on this.
    It is a nonsense to suggest that higher earners should pay a higher percentage rate to their pension. The whole principle of a percentage is that the more you earn, the more you pay and vice versa. The pension received is not proportionately higher and thus this is yet another STEALTH TAX.
    Even before the proposed contribution rises around 50% of my wages go straight back to the exchequer, not impressed when they spend it propping up their mates in the private sector who have gambled (and lost) investments in the banking sector (including our pensions).
    The government does not appear to be limiting the bonuses/earnings of the highest paid "in" the NHS, the private businesses known as GPs who expect to be paid extra (QOF) just to provide adequate care. The rest of the NHS gets fined for failing to achieve standards. Abolish QOF, save the NHS some money, specialist nurses have already demonstrated equal/better outcomes so why are we wasting extra money on contractors, pay them a salary like all other NHS staff.
    Whoops GPs are probably one of the few groups guaranteed to vote for this government.

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  • It can be seen as a divide and conquer rule, but if we stick together it can also be seen as a partial victory, of sorts. It is certainly a move in the right direction and an absolute sign that the government are scared and are backpeddling quickly. It is also a clear sign to ALL Nurses that STRIKING WORKS!!! To all of those who didn't strike, to all those who still say 'I can't leave my patients', DO YOU SEE WHAT CAN HAPPEN? Out of the relatively small amount of Nurses who did strike, look at how much impact we had, IMAGINE WHAT IMPACT WE COULD HAVE IF THE REST OF YOU WOKE UP AND GOT OFF THE FENCE! STRIKING WORKS!!!!! Now we need to push this advantage, negotiations are ongoing and the unions must decline this offer and say it is simply not enough. We will accept nothing less than an IMPROVEMENT in ALL Nurses pensions, pay and conditions. The threat of strike action must always be present to ensure that the government do not renage on these negotiations or do not go as far as we want them to. Furthermore, now that those who discredited strike action, or said it wouldn't work, or we wouldn't be supported or whatever have basically been proven wrong, the Nursing profession must join together and strike for this and all of the other issues that affect us and our patients!

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  • We should all we treated the same, and if one group has the rise in contributions postponed, then we should all have it postponed; better still don't increase them at all. It would cause resentment if some were treated more fairly than others.

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  • ""Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, said: “This is yet another divisive and provocative move by the government and means that more than two thirds of nurses will now face further increased pensions contributions.

    “The truth is these increased contributions will not go into the NHS pension scheme, but will go to the Treasury to help pay off deficits that nurses and healthcare assistants have had no part in creating.”"


    So what is he doing about it. The RCN should be disbanded.

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