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Wednesday 22nd August 2012

New Local Government Pensions Scheme (LGPS) proposals released As you’ll no doubt be aware, the Local Government Association (LGA) and trade unions have recently jointly announced the outcomes of their negotiations on new LGPS proposals. You are currently being consulted by Unison about whether you agree with these proposals but the aim of this article is to try and outline the main points that have come from the consultations. The aim of the negotiated changes was to produce a scheme which protected existing members, was affordable to staff, had defined benefits (which means your final pension will be specified rather than dependent upon the scheme’s investment returns) and will be sustainable for the employers, the employees and the pension funds themselves. The main provisions of the proposed new scheme which will start in April 2014 are as follows: o

A Career Average Re-valued Earnings scheme which is often known as a CARE scheme. This looks at your total earnings each year (including overtime) and will revalue previous years based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in order to work out an average figure for a person’s employment. The CPI is the index that is currently used for pension’s increases and for revaluing deferred pensions although it tends to usually be lower than the Retail Price Index (RPI). The current scheme is based on a person’s final salary rather than an average salary.


The accrual rate would be 1/49 (at present it is 1/60 so the new rate is better). This identifies the amount of pension a person has accumulated in a particular year.


With the present scheme the normal pension age (NPA) is 65. Under the proposals this would disappear with each member having their own pension age which would be the same as their State Pension Age.


The average contribution by members to the scheme would be 6.5% (which is the same as the current scheme) with a minimum contribution of 5.5%. The rate will be based on actual pay rather than full time equivalent pay which present scheme uses. For those staff on £34,001 it is proposed that the rate would be 6.8% gradually increasing to a maximum of 12.5% for those on over £150,000pa. A complete list of rates can be found on the Unison website.


There will be an option for members to choose to pay half contributions in exchange for half the pension value although they would still keep the full value of other benefits. This is a completely new idea and not possible with the current scheme. It has been suggested in order to reduce members deciding to opt out of the scheme.


Current scheme members will have their benefits protected for service prior to the introduction of the new scheme. This includes protection of the Rule of 85 for those who are eligible. Protected past service will continue to be based on final salary and pension age of 65 or earlier if eligible.


Scheme members who are outsourced will be able to stay in the scheme on their first and subsequent transfers (currently this is a choice for the new employer).

On seeing the proposals, I believe that the negotiations seem to have achieved a scheme that offers members a final salary scheme which potentially provides staff with a fair pension in their retirement. The accrual rate is better than I had personally expected although this is paid for by members retiring later, the use of CPI rather than average salary increases or RPI, and an increase in contributions for higher paid staff. The main thing that existing scheme members should remember is that past pension benefits will be protected. The changes will affect every member in a different way and unfortunately we cannot advise on how the changes will affect individuals. As a Unison member you will be asked to decide if you are happy with the agreed new scheme and want to accept the proposals as negotiated. Information about proposed contributions can be found on the Unison website and are being widely circulated so that you can see what your new rate is likely to be and how the changes may affect you personally. Sarah Payne Member of Somerset Pension Committee representing Employees, Deferred members and Pensioners.

UNISON Conferences 2012/2013 o

UNISON Retired Members’ Conference (Cardiff) Tuesday 9th October – Wednesday 10th October 2012 More details can be found here: Retired Members’ Conference


UNISON Disabled Members’ Conference (Brighton) Saturday 27th October – Monday 29th October 2012 More details can be found here: Disabled Members’ Conference


UNISON Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Members’ Conference (Brighton) Friday 16th November – Sunday 18th November 2012 More details can be found here: LGBT Conference


UNISON Black Members’ Conference (Sheffield) Friday 18th January – Sunday 20th January 2013 More details can be found here: Black Members’ Conference


UNISON Women’s Conference (Liverpool) Thursday 14th February – Saturday 16th February 2013 More details can be found here: Women’s Conference

A Future That Works – Saturday 20th October Across the country, UNISON members have started planning for a mass demonstration against the government's failed politics of austerity, set to take place in London on Saturday 20 October 2012. Tens of thousands of UNISON members will make the journey to the capital to march under the heading, "A Future That Works" to show their opposition to the government's pro-austerity, antigrowth policies. More details can be found here: A Future That Works and you can book your Coach Travel here: UNISON Coaches

No to Postcode Pay The NHS that we know and love is under threat. One of the biggest challenges is the pressure to cut costs and make savings. This has resulted in 20 Trusts across the South West collaborating on radical changes to pay and conditions and the creation of a regional pay system. Plans published by these employers envisage changes which could cut pay, terms and conditions for nurses, doctors and other healthcare staff by up to 15%. This will be bad for the NHS, bad for patients and bad for all NHS staff across the UK. Local pay hurts the local economy, compromises patient safety, seriously damages staff morale and creates instability in the workforce at a time when the NHS is going through unprecedented change. We need urgent action from the Government to get these 20 Trusts to roll back on these plans and instead focus on protecting patients, staff and our economy. Only by stopping these plans will we ensure the continuation of the NHS that we all know and love. Members are encouraged to sign the petition here: No to Postcode Pay

Understanding Domestic Abuse UNISON South West are running two one-day courses on ‘Understanding Domestic Abuse’ in Taunton and Bristol. This training is specifically for Women Members and Activists. The dates are as follows; o

Understanding Domestic Abuse (Taunton) - Wednesday 3rd October 2012, UNISON House


Understanding Domestic Abuse (Bristol) - Wednesday 28th November 2012, Vintry House

For more information and an application form please contact the Education and Equalities Team either by telephone: 01823 285 314 or e-mail:

Somerset UNISON Website As first announced in the June newsletter, we are currently in the process of developing a new website for the Branch. The new website will be launched in late September/early October and it is hoped that it will improve communications between the membership and the Branch Office. One of the key features is a password protected member’s area which will be specific to the Somerset Branch. Branch Committee papers will be available for download as well as useful documents including Case Forms for Stewards and Expenses Forms. Other features include links to our new Social Media platforms including Twitter and Facebook, a problem at work step-by-step guide, as well as the latest National and Local news. We hope that all members will engage with the new website when it is up-and-running and we will be seeking your opinions and feedback to ensure that we constantly improve and update the site.

UNISON Travel Club As a UNISON member you now have access to the brand new UNISON Travel Club website. The website is regularly updated with exclusive travel offers. The website can be found here: Examples of packages available; Alton Towers Package 2 nights at the 4* Hallmark Hotel Derby. Includes tickets to Alton Towers, freshly made packed lunch to take to the park and full English breakfast. Adults from £99 per person. Family of 4 from £259. More details: Alton Towers Relaxing Spa Break 1 night stay, Dinner, Bed & Breakfast, Light lunch and spa treatment. Available at Brook Mollington Banastre or Brook Tewkesbury Park Hotel. Only £109 per person. More details: Spa Break

Somerset UNISON Stewards Pack At a Branch Committee meeting concerns were raised that Stewards were not receiving information directly from the branch when they signed up. The Branch Functions Group has now finished developing a Stewards Pack. The Stewards Pack will be sent to all existing Stewards in hard copy format and will then continue to be distributed to all new Stewards and reps. A copy will also be available to download in PDF format in the member’s area of the new website.

Branch Priorities for the Coming Month ~

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Raising members’ concerns regarding the SCC Management Restructure Developing a Casework Management System for the Branch Preparing for the ‘A Future That Works’ National Rally on Saturday 20th October 2012

Contact Us Somerset UNISON UNISON Office County Hall Taunton TA1 4DY T: 01823 356136 E: W:

Somerset UNISON - August 2012 Newsletter  

Latest news from the Somerset Branch of UNISON.