Unison, the public sector trade union, has warned that government plans to allow universities and colleges to opt out of the LGPS for new non-teaching staff could have harmful consequences.
Unison national secretary, Jon Richards, said that proposals could damage cash flows at LGPS funds, affecting LGPS members as a whole. Currently, post-1992 universities, further education colleges and sixth-form colleges are required to offer LGPS membership to all support staff, but Whitehall is consulting on plans to allow employers to offer alternative pensions to new staff.
Richards said: “Not providing a decent pension scheme for new staff could lead to a two-tier workforce, with colleagues doing the same job being provided with different pensions provision. Those not in the LGPS would likely end up with far inferior pension provision leading to more public service workers retiring into poverty.” He added that the proposals would penalise the lowest paid, mainly female staff, leading to potential discrimination and equal pay issues.
Unison said the proposals would only apply in England, which could lead to two-tier provision between England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. While the further education and college sectors cover only 3% of the LGPS membership, if the proposals were extended to similar employers, up to 20% of the LGPS could be affected, leading to cash flow problems.