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Bill on pension reforms published
The Government has pressed ahead with the final stage of its controversial public sector pension reforms despite the continued threat of industrial action by workers.
The Public Service Pensions Bill 2013 has now been published, which ministers said paves the way to deliver £65 billion savings over the next 50 years.
The legislation was brought forward just 24 hours after the end of the Trades Union Congress where unions threatened a fresh wave of industrial action over a series of issues including public sector pensions.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "We intend to fight this bill politically but we also believe that co-ordinated industrial action is still necessary on pensions as well as pay, and this should be held as soon as possible after the TUC demonstrations on October 20."
The Government said its reforms will reduce public service pensions costs by around half, delivering sustainability for the long-term while ensuring that public service pensions remain among the "very best available".
Under the measures in the bill, public sector workers will move to career average pension schemes, instead of "unfair" final salary schemes, and will have to work longer to receive a full pension, linking their normal pension age to their state pension age, except for the Armed Forces, police officers and firefighters.
Workers closest to retirement will be protected from the changes, so that those 10 years from their normal pension age on 1 April 2012 will not see any change in when they can retire, nor any decrease in the amount of pension they receive, ministers said. The bill will also close the "generous and outdated" Great Offices of State pensions for new office holders and move to a scheme equivalent to that available for ministers.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: "This Bill is the final stage in delivering sustainable public service pensions. It will cut the cost to taxpayers by nearly half, whilst ensuring that public sector workers, rightly, continue to receive pensions amongst the very best available. This is a good deal for taxpayers and a good deal for public service workers: a settlement for a generation."
Teachers are launching a campaign of industrial action short of a strike from September 26 in their long-running row over the pension reforms and other issues such as pay and workload.
Other public sector unions remain in dispute, threatening more strikes, while the TUC said its anti-austerity protests on October 20 will attract huge support.