The above Unison poster may be sincere but, given a TPA report issued today, public service pensions in their present form are unrealistic and placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers and on council budgets.
New research shows a £53 billion black hole in council pensions with 15 councils having a deficit of more than £500 million.
It states against a background of dire problems in the public finances, the overly generous Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is in crisis. The full report features specific data for each local authority in England, Wales and Scotland and warns of the severe costs which will be incurred if the Scheme continues unreformed.
In 2009 the TPA revealed that LGPS employer pension contributions alone were costing the equivalent of £1 in every £5 council tax. One year on, this new report demonstrates that on top of that huge cost now, the Scheme is storing up large costs for the future too.
The key findings:
* Councils across the UK had a combined pension deficit of £53 billion in 2008-09. This is up from nearly £42 billion in 2007-08 - an increase of 27%.
* According to council's own actuarial estimates, the value of council pension assets fell by ore that £21 billion during 2008-09 - a loss of 20% on the previous year.
* Birmingham City Council had the largest deficit with Fife coming second.
If you do work in the public sector you will realise that serious reform is required for public sector pensions. Local authorities are running unsustainable final salary schemes that are now all but extinct in the private sector and government has to realise they can't continue.
With local taxpayers already paying a fortune for these pensions, it would be grossly unfair for local authorities to try and plug this gap with yet more tax rises. When reform is enacted, public service employees may be able to empathise with those of us who had our private pension pots raided by Gordon Brown.