Party of Wales backs fair pensions for public sector workers

MP calls on Council Leader to apologise to workforce

Plaid Cymru Members of Parliament last night voted against the UK Government’s proposals to drastically alter public sector pensions and opposed the closure of affordable pensions schemes in the civil service.

Despite protection for some groups the Bill will lead to a watering down of pension benefits for a demoralised and often poorly paid workforce. New schemes will be much more expensive for members and for many staff unaffordable. This will lead to ‘opting out’ and a future reliance on state benefits costly for the taxpayer in the long term.

The Bill also attempts to link the state pension age for all new schemes. For many loyal civil servants with long service this could mean that although planned well into the future, retirement gets pushed back so far that their working life ends either early with reduced benefits or much later with the health and wellbeing issues this could entail.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards was one of only 19 MPs who voted against the government. The Labour leadership and vast majority of the Labour backbenchers, abstained. The Bill will now progress through to the next stage in Parliament following the 276 votes in favour.

Speaking after the debate Carmarthenshire MP Jonathan Edwards said:

“The Public Sector Pensions Bill will have a drastic impact on our public sector workers, who will work longer, pay more in contributions and receive less when they retire. Indeed, the new schemes proposed by this bill will leave many staff unable to afford to opt in, making many schemes unsustainable in the long term. What doesn’t appear to have been accounted for is that many public sector workers will be reliant on state benefits after retirement.

“Public sector jobs are disproportionately important to counties outside London and the south east. In London, the public sector accounts for 22% of all jobs, and in the south east 22.8%. By contrast, in the north east it is 29.4% and in Scotland 28.6%. In Wales, the figure is highest at 31.2%. Carmarthenshire, with a higher proportion of people employed in the public sector, will be one of the hardest and most disproportionately hit by the UK government’s proposals.

“I am always astonished when Labour members fail to vote against the Tories on issues of huge importance to hundreds of thousands of public sector works in Wales.

“Carmarthenshire County Council is the largest employer in the county with over 9,000 public sector employees. I’m sure they’ll all want to know whether their Council Leader, Councillor Kevin Madge, is happy with his Labour party colleagues for abstaining from this crucial vote and opening the doors to the Tories and Lib Dems to take this pensions Bill to the next stage.

“I’m proud to say I stood up for the thousands of public sector workers in Carmarthenshire. The Leader of the Council should immediately issue a full public apology on the failure of his party.”


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