When it comes to the ‘social unfairness’ of senior Mandarin pensions, the Coalition has never been short of pompous things to say. Deputy Prime Minister without Portfolio (or Party) Nick
Clegg said six weeks ago:
Entirely correct of course – but still tippy-toeing around the central issue of The Slog’s campaign: how on earth did the pensions of these curly-tailed honkers double from 2006 to 2010?
This isn’t just about history: according to figures compiled by the BBC, spending on self-awarded Sir Humphrey pensions will more than double by 2014/15. And according to an Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) report, this rise in spending on provision represents an average increase of 20% a year in real terms. If only the stock markets were going to do that over the next half-decade.
If you’re new to this ripoff expose, the relateds at the end of the piece will help you catch up. But the Sun headline is that 600,000 Town Hall and White Hall fatties are responsible for £1 in 8 of the UK’s debt liabilities….and they not only gave themselves this undeserved bonus free from market effects – they hid it from auditors.
On this specific part of the subject, our Parliamentarians are strangely silent. Well, the silence isn’t that odd, actually: because our MPs (as ever) are up to their necks in duvet feathers themselves. Official figures show that the Treasury is paying £7.8million a year into the MPs’ pension fund – equivalent to 18 per cent of their salaries. After 26 years of service, they can look forward to a guaranteed index-linked pension of £38,000 a year – much of it transferable to their widow or widower after death.
However – and here again we find yet more sleight of hand – a footnote in the House of Commons accounts admits the actual figure could be more than double that. These new, more generous terms have also come in since 2006. They include allowing our MPs to accrue benefits faster than any private sector pension, and reach full pension entitlement earlier than anyone else in the public sector.
And these extra dollops of gravy were voted in….by the MPs themselves. Turkeys voting for birthdays, it seems.
We’ve had the bankers’ bonuses, we’ve had the MPs’ expenses, and now we’ve got the Mandarin pensions. But in amongst this lot are the Commons pensions too. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the British Establishment saw disaster coming – and set out to render itself bombproof. During the Blitz, the late Queen Mother refused to leave London because (she said) “I could never look the East End in the face again”. Clearly, such questions of honour are not relevant to the ruling class of 2010.
We need more detail NOW on why these Civil Service pensions – the expensive plonkers, not the useful folks – were sheltered from market pressures, who was in on the decision to hide the better entitlements, whether the taxpayers actually have a legal obligation to honour them, and whether the SFO should get involved.
But this may be something that has to come from the police. If, of course, they are not too politicised already to be objective. And if they have time to do so, given their commitment to the eradication of Hate Crime.
Related Slog pieces: Exclusive Treasury leaks highlight Sir Humphrey greed.