Friday, 8 October 2010

Quote of the day...

...has to go to Lord Hutton. [Contrary to an earlier version of this post, not the same Lord Hutton who conducted the David Kelly whitewash.]

Despite his pensions review recommending that public sector workers work longer and pay more to get less, there is at least part of him that realises the fallaciousness of his own proposals;
[The review] also busted some of the myths about these pensions. For example, that public service pensions are "gold-plated": the average pension paid to pensioner members is about £7,800 a year and about half of all public sector pensioners receive less than £5,600 a year. Overall, these pensions provide a modest – not excessive – level of retirement income. 

There is a gap between the public and private sectors in terms of pensions provision. But my own view is that we should be celebrating the high level of participation in pension schemes in the public sector, not seeking to follow the downward drift of pension savings in the private sector. Public sector pension reform must not become a race to the bottom. There would be hidden costs to the taxpayer in taking this course. 
The question now is, if he realises the myths and rejects the race to the bottom, just what is he playing at?

As PCS point out, although the interim report "support many of PCS’s assertions" to the contrary, the review is based on the premise "that public sector pensions are overly expensive and need to be cut back."

And yet still his proposals fly in the face of this point. If "the average pension paid to pensioner members is about £7,800 a year and about half of all public sector pensioners receive less than £5,600 a year," then why should they have to "pay more, work longer and still lose final salary payouts?" If the income pensioners receive is "modest," how is it also "unsustainable?"

Whatever myths Hutton may have "busted," and whatever neo-liberal dogmas he may "reject," Hutton is still building his proposals on the back of them. As PCS say, this is just "part of the government’s wider assault on the low-paid, the public sector and the welfare state."

Hutton is simply patting us on the back and offering us consolations before he gets stuck into the class war.