The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has launched a consultation into councillor access to the local government pension scheme.
I’ve ‘googled’ pensions for councillors and found
- website of the Local Government Pension Scheme [LGPS]
- an example LGPS factsheet from Cheshire County Council, which describes the scheme.
In Surrey Heath, to my knowledge, no councillors are members of the LGPS. Staff of Surrey Heath Borough Council are members of the Surrey County Council Pension Fund, councillors are not members of this scheme. Surrey Heath councillors do not receive a council pension, which is an excellent state of affairs.
I don’t agree with councillors being members of any council pension scheme. Councillors are not full-time politicians or salaried town hall staff. Councillors volunteer to serve their communities, for which they get an allowance. It is not a salary. As it says in the Background section of the consultation document, “The public seem generally surprised that councillors are receiving taxpayer-funded pensions at all”. I think that’s true.
If councillors want to build a pension from the money they get in allowances, then that’s their choice. I believe that if a councillor, or any locally elected official, when removed from office in an election, the public should understand that their taxes no longer support them. The government are looking to limit access by elected individuals to the LGPS from April 2014.
The consultation offers a number of options. To make your views known email them to CouncillorPensions@communities.gsi.gov.uk