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Education pensions speedbrief - Public sector pensions reform: the latest developments

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Public sector pensions reform: the latest developments

At the end of last year, we reported that the Government announced that headline agreements had been reached with the main trade unions in relation to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), the NHS Pension Scheme (NHSPS), the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) and the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) (please see here for our previous speedbrief).

While 2011 ended on a positive note in relation to public sector pension reforms, the same cannot be said for the start of 2012. A number of major trade unions have withdrawn their agreement from the heads of terms agreements, resulting in a fresh blow to the Government’s hopes to resolve the ongoing dispute about public sector pensions.

So far this January:

• Unite have rejected the heads of terms in relation to the LGPS and NHSPS 

• NUT and NASUWT have both rejected the heads of terms in relation to the TPS

Unite in particular cited a crisis of confidence and trust in the Government as a reason for rejecting the LGPS heads of terms. The cracks first started to appear immediately after the LGPS heads of terms had been announced when a letter from Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, introduced new terms, although this was hastily remedied and the LGPS reform appeared to be back on track.

However, the Government’s plans for reform were bolstered yesterday afternoon when UNISON activists voted to continue negotiations in relation to the LGPS and the NHSPS – click here for the announcement. The GMB also remain committed to the negotiations.

While the Government can take some comfort from yesterday’s announcement by UNISON, it will no doubt remain concerned that the withdrawal of other unions (in addition to the PCS in relation to the PCSPS) leaves the plans for reform in a precarious position.