Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Doing It Deliberately...

From the BBC:

An estimated 95,000 people have been overpaid a total of £126m over 30 years as a result of errors in public sector pensions, the Cabinet Office has said.

Retired civil servants, health service workers, teachers, judicial workers and armed services personnel were given too much money.

The government said the money need not be repaid, as this would not be cost-effective, but many face pension cuts.


It's worth pointing out that as things stand, the UK Government is planning to adjust pensions to remove the effect of these overpayments from future calculations - something which could see peoples' pensions reduced and monies clawed back. In contrast, the Scottish Government is guaranteeing not to reduce anyone's pension which has been overpayed in this instance, and will instead apply future increases correctly to existing payments.

Unfortunately, the UK Government has responsibility for the pension schemes for teachers and those in the NHS, so many will find their payments reduced alongside those in the armed forces and civil service. However, those in the Scottish local government, fire and police service schemes will be able to keep these small historic overpayments.

As someone who used to ply his trade in the pensions industry, I have to say that in my opinion, the approach of the Scottish Government is the only fair one here. In contrast, the approach of the Labour Government in Westminster is both miserly and crass. Proposing to cut back veterans pensions at Christmas time? Good grief...

Frankly, as long as people's expectations were reasonable at the time and if the error is as long-standing as this one seems to be, it'd be better just to write it off. Especially given 1) the small amount of money involved (we're talking about the future indexed effects arising from a £124m overpayment made over a 30 year period - i.e. chickenfeed) and 2) Westminster fiascos like this one here.

Nonetheless, I daresay it still won't stop the inevitable incoherent ululations of distress about the supposed unfairness of Scotland doing its own thing here where it is able to do so. Who'll be the first rabid anti-SNPer to go off on one about this, do we think?


Anonymous said...

Typical of the right wing torynats giving money to two right wing occupations.

Richard Thomson said...

Congratulations! There's been some stiff competition to date, but you are now the proud holder of the 'most stupid comment made on this blog' award.

What you asking Santa for this year? A brain?