Threat to decent pensions in housing
In recent years there has been a trend for pension benefits to be reduced in the social housing sector. As the Social Housing Pension Scheme (SHPS), the largest scheme in the sector prepares to announce its latest deficit, Inside Housing reports that this will increase the likelihood of employers’ contributions rising and staff being moved from defined benefit (DB) to inferior defined contribution (DC) schemes – where the final income is not guaranteed.
According to Inside Housing, the finance director at Family Mosaic is recommending to his board that staff be moved to the inferior DC schemes to ‘limit exposure to deficit increases.’ This would follow a squeeze on the pay of front link staff at Family Mosaic. In common with most associations, the Chief Executive was awarded a 5.95% pay increase and has £11,900 paid in to his pension pot. Surpluses in the sector are rising and are expected to continue to rise. Workers will draw the conclusion that they are being repeatedly kicked by highly paid executives.
Unite LE1111 Branch secretary Suzanne Muna commented “Inadequate pensions raise the threat of poverty in old age for our members. This is a highly profitable sector that has been squeezing terms and conditions of its staff in recent years. A further attack on pensions would be unacceptable; we would urge employers to step back from making further attacks on their staff pay and conditions”
Unites policy on pensions is clear and was reaffirmed at our last policy conference. The union is campaigning for improved pensions and increased flexibility in company schemes.
Unite opposes the closure of final salary and other defined benefit schemes. The union is committed so support and assist Unite groups who seek to resist such closures.
What to do
If an employer is proposing a cut in benefits or increased contributions Unite members should be consulted about what action they may want to take including the possibility of industrial action.
Take advice from the union if you need technical back up and keep your regional officer informed. Contact your Unite rep or the branch Chair Paul Kershaw if changes are proposed.
Unite will be circulating a new briefing shortly.