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Lansley airs concerns on NHS pension moves

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has attacked the Government’s public sector pension reform proposals in a letter to Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander.

A private letter to Alexander, leaked to the Telegraph and reportedly sent to the Lib Dem MP two months ago, refers to a paper sent to the Cabinet outlining the Government’s plans.

Under the Government’s plans, which are based on the recommendations of former Labour minister Lord Hutton, public sector workers will have pensions based on career-average rather than final-salary. Contributions are also set to increase for many public service employees while most members’ retirement ages will be brought into line with the state pension age.

In his letter, Lansley highlights concerns over the impact the reforms will have on women in the NHS pension scheme.

He says: “The paper assumes that public sector workers, many of whom are women, will work a 48-year career to get a full pension. In the NHS currently, the average full-time career for those taking a pension is only 18 years and it seems unrealistic to suggest that pension scheme design should be based on the assumption that a predominantly female workforce would need to work full-time 48-year careers in future to receive a full pension.”

Last week, the Treasury reiterated its intention to push ahead with sweeping reforms to public sector pension schemes. However, contribution increases will now be considered on a scheme-by-scheme basis.

A Department for Health spokesman says: “Things have moved on since this was written. The Government is committed to public service pensions remaining among the very best available but people are living longer which means pensions are costing taxpayers more, so It is only fair that public service workers pay more towards them.”

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