Last update: 30 Nov 2023
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December Pensions Bulletin - Autumn Statement Update

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The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

The Government Response to the Local Government Pension Scheme Consultation

Last Wednesday the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his Autumn statement which included a number of pensions related announcements as below.

  • The Government confirmed its commitment to the Triple Lock and so state pensions will be increased in line with average earnings i.e. 8.5%. This will raise the New State Pension to over £221 per week from April 2024.
  • The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will consult on launching a ‘public consolidator vehicle’ run by the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) aimed at smaller Defined Benefit (DB) schemes that are “unattractive to commercial providers.” This could open the PPF as an investment vehicle for such schemes.
  • HM Treasury will consult on ways to
    • reduce the barriers to returning fund surpluses to sponsors,
    • enable DB schemes to opt for “100% PPF coverage” in return for paying a higher levy,
    • introduce mechanisms to protect members.
  • A small number of authorised Defined Contribution schemes to act as consolidators for DC pots under £1,000.
  • The Government will support the Pensions Regulator’s (TPR’s) plans to implement a register of trustees and to update the trustee toolkit.
  • An Autumn 2023 Finance Bill will legislate for the removal of the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) altogether.
  • The Government proposes placing duties on occupational Defined Contribution (DC) pensions trustees to offer better services to savers when they access their pension assets. This may include Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) arrangements within a DB scheme.
  • The Government will further explore legislation around establishing Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) schemes and how this may be developed further to allow employers to establish different types of CDC schemes.
  • There will be a call for evidence on a new ‘Lifetime Provider Model’ to simplify the DC pensions market and allow individuals to have “one pension pot for life.”

Alongside the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the response to ‘The next steps on investments for the LGPS’ consultation was published on November 22nd 2023.

The consultation largely adopts the measures the government originally consulted on, with the main points from the consultation (in paragraph 9) set out as follows:

  • “After having considered the responses, the government will now implement the proposals that we set out in the consultation to accelerate and expand pooling and increase investment in levelling up and in private equity.
  • We will:
    • set out…that funds should transfer all assets to their pool by 31st March 2025, and set out in their ISS assets which are pooled, under pool management and not pooled and the rationale, value for money and date for review if not pooled
    • revise pooling guidance to set out a preferred model of pooling including delegation of manager selection and strategy implementation
    • implement a requirement in guidance for administering authorities to set a training policy for pensions committee members and to report against the policy
    • revise guidance on annual reports to include a standard asset allocation, proportion of assets pooled, a comparison between actual and strategic asset allocation, net savings from pooling and net returns for each asset class against their chosen benchmark
    • make changes to LGPS official statistics to include a standard asset allocation and the proportion of assets pooled and the net savings of pooling
    • amend regulations to require funds to set a plan to invest up to 5% of assets in levelling up the UK, and to report annually on progress against the plan
    • revise ISS guidance to require funds to consider investments to meet the government’s ambition of a 10% allocation to private equity.”

GMB is extremely disappointed that the government response takes no account whatsoever of the responses to the consultation which overwhelmingly opposed the drift towards greater pooling size, criticised increased management fees, spoke against investment in government policy outwith the fiduciary duty and identified a dangerous lack of rationale for investing in private equity.

So much for a listening government!

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December Pensions Bulletin

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Pensions Can Be Confusing – Here are Some Simple Answers to Some Simple Questions

Some people can find Pensions confusing; they have a language of their own and there are countless systems and methods of payment all of which need detailed consideration. In order to help a very useful Pension FAQs has just been made public by the House of Commons library and it can be accessed here free of charge.


The questions GMB most often receives are answered below.

What is a pension?

A Pension is a regular payment made during a person’s retirement from a fund to which that person and/or their employer has contributed to during their working life. This is normally referred to as an occupational or workplace pension.

A Pension is also paid by the state to people of or above the official retirement age and to some widows and disabled people. This is normally referred to as the State Pension.

How do I get one?

Occupational: Your employer is obliged to provide a pension scheme that you and they contribute to. You can opt out of it if you wish but GMB strongly advises you not to. If your employer does not run its own scheme it will automatically enrol you into the national NEST.

State: You can claim the new State Pension if you are:

  • A man born on or after 6 April 1951
  • A woman born on or after 6 April 1953

The earliest you can get the new State Pension is when you reach State Pension Age. The level of State Pension is determined by your National Insurance contributions. You will usually need at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record to get any State Pension (they do not have to be 10 qualifying years in a row). You will need 35 qualifying years to get the new full State Pension.

Why does it matter?

How will you pay your bills and expenses when you have stopped working? Most people will not win the lottery, they will be too old or too ill to continue working and they will not be able to rely on an inheritance or a part time job. So you need to put away money whilst you are working to supplement the state pension you may receive. If you do not, you will likely live out your days in relative poverty.

As Pensions are a workplace issue, it is important that you campaign in the workplace to secure improvements to your pension fund as often as possible to achieve the dignity in retirement that you deserve.

What does it Pay?

Occupational: How long is a piece of string? Some workplace pensions give an amount based on salary and length of service. Other workplaces facilitate investments into pension funds for you to build up a pension pot and buy an annuity (or other financial product) at retirement. Whichever it is GMB always recommends that you join a pension scheme, stay in it till you retire and campaign to improve it via your Trade Union throughout your working life.

State: The full new state Pension is £203.85 per week. It increases in April each year by whichever is the highest of the previous September:

  • earnings – the average percentage growth in wages (in Great Britain)
  • prices – the percentage growth in prices in the UK as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI)
  • 2.5%

How much does it cost?

Occupational: Employer and Employee contributions are determined by scheme rules which can take into account all factors including e.g. stock market returns, profitability, retirement age, level of benefits, affordability etc

State: If you are employed you pay Class 1 National Insurance Contributions. The rates for most people for the tax year 2023 to 2024 are:

Your Pay NI Rate
£242 - £967 per week 12%
Over £967 per week 2%

You pay less if:

Full details about the New state pension can be found at The new State Pension: What you'll get - GOV.UK (

November Pension Bulletin

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McCloud – Its Our Money and We Want It Back

I remind you that the GMB has not given up the fight in respect of returning to the Public Sector Pension funds their surpluses that the government used to fund the court case that it lost. As you will be aware the transition to the pre 2015 Pension schemes in the Public Sector was found to be age discriminatory and the government used the excess amounts in the funds – which were to be used to fund benefit improvements – to pay for the required remedy.

Along with other Trade Unions we are taking the government to court to have the monies returned and the case will be heard in December 2023/January 2024. I shall keep you advised of developments. If you wish for a more detailed account or want to get involved in campaigning on the issue please contact

2024 Pension Increases Still in Doubt

State Pensions are increased under the terms of the triple lock (the higher of earnings increases, CPI or 2.5%) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published inflation figures for the 12 months to September 2023:

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) increased by 6.7%

Retail Prices Index (RPI) increased by 8.9%.

The ONS has also published the latest earnings increase figures. For the three months to July 2023, average weekly earnings increased by 8.5% compared to the equivalent figure of 12 months ago.

Were the Government to implement the triple lock in full, an increase of 8.5% would be applied to the basic and single-tier State Pensions. However, according to the Financial Times, the Government is considering whether to exclude bonuses from the average earnings data. This would give a figure of 7.8% instead.

We await November's Autumn Statement for news on whether the triple lock policy will be fully maintained.

The Gender Pensions Gap – a (very) quick round up

Women receive smaller pension than men! That may not surprise you given that, overwhelmingly, pensions are derived from pay and male pay is on average higher than female pay. What may surprise you is the size of the gap especially in both the Public and Private Sectors.

Sector Gender Pensions Gap
Civil Service Pension Scheme 47%
NHS 63%

Teachers Pension Scheme

Local Government 49%
Private Sector* 55%

*On average women’s pension pots are less than half the size of men’s at retirement

Why is it an issue? What causes it?

Women are more likely to face poverty in retirement than men and 92% of women retire with a small pot (below £30k).

The main causes of the gap are

  • Lower pay
  • Part time working
  • Unaffordable childcare
  • Poor auto-enrolment provision
  • Divorce
  • Low State Benefits
  • Lack of Financial Confidence
  • High Mortgages/Rents
  • Living Alone
  • Pension contribution gaps during periods of absence from employment for
  • Childbirth
  • Caring Responsibilities
  • Menopause

Knowing the causes means that we can begin to address (some) collective solutions

  • Higher Pay
  • Family Friendly Policies and Affordable Childcare
  • Improved Auto Enrolment and State Provision
  • Education

And there are (some) individual solutions too

  • Use a Pensions Calculator/Retirement Planner
  • Increase your contributions when you can
  • Retire Later
  • Check your State Pension Contributions
  • Plan for adverse events
  • Share caring responsibilities

The GMB will never accept this inequity, we do not accept that half the population should suffer inequity just because of their gender or life choices.

We will campaign in the workplace, with Pension Providers and in parliament for the above.

Change is needed: Be part of the change!

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October Pensions Bulletin

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Pensions Bulletin


The Cabinet Office has consulted on the draft regulations needed for the Public Sector Pension Schemes to implement the second phase of the McCloud Remedy.

Most responses agreed to the proposed regulatory and legislative changes that will give affected members a choice of their benefits from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2022. Members will be able to select either legacy (Pre 2015*) or reformed (After 2015) benefits for this period.

The choice will be given when benefits become payable or, for those with remedy period benefits in payment before 1 October 2023, as soon as is practical once the legislation is in place.

Responses also emphasised ensuring members had sufficient information to understand what the remedy meant, especially in relation to making their choice.

The Cabinet Office will therefore continue with the proposed regulations. These are expected to be laid in Parliament early in September to become effective from 1 October 2023.

*2014 in Local Government

The UK State Pension Triple Lock

The UK state pension triple lock is a policy that guarantees the state pension will increase annually by the highest of the following three factors:

Earnings Growth: The state pension rises along with the average increase in wages across the UK.

Price Inflation (CPI): It also adjusts based on the Consumer Price Index, reflecting the cost of living and inflation.

Minimum Increase of 2.5%: Even if the above factors are lower, the state pension will increase by at least 2.5% per year.

This policy aims to provide pensioners with a secure and predictable increase in their state pension, maintaining their purchasing power over time.

The has been criticised because during periods of low wage growth pensions may increase higher than earnings: however GMB thinks that is a good thing as it will help restore the lost purchasing power of UK state Pensions which is one of the lowest in the OECD.

Critics have described the policy as expensive but as far as GMB is concerned its worth every penny, not only to ensure dignity in retirement but also to ensure money circulates in local economies.

Climate Change

Since October 2021, trustees of schemes with assets of £5bn or more have had to comply with climate change governance and reporting requirements, which include producing climate scenario analysis for annual climate reports.

In October 2022, this requirement was extended to include schemes with assets of £1bn or more.

Recent research has criticised some of this climate scenario analysis, suggesting that many models used in financial services significantly underestimate climate change risk.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has noted that scientific consensus suggests an increase in global temperatures of 4°C would result in catastrophic biodiversity loss and the collapse of the insurance sector.

While TPR maintains that trustees do not need to be climate experts, it suggests that they should:

  • have an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding of climate issues
  • undertake regular training and ask for additional training if they do not feel comfortable making decisions based on the information provided
  • regularly review the climate-related capabilities of service providers and consider the need for additional advisers or specialist input
  • be able to understand the narratives underlying their climate scenarios, the limitations of those scenarios and the assumptions made in their construction
  • broadly rationalise the outputs from those scenarios for their scheme
  • consider with advisers the use of stress testing and risk analysis to complement their climate scenario input to investment strategy decision making

The GMB adds to this list

  • An appreciation of the concept of a Just Transition*

*The Just transition is a framework developed by the trade union to encompass the range of interventions needed to ensure workers’ rights and livelihoods when shifting to sustainable production.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines just transition as "A set of principles, processes and practices that aim to ensure that no people, workers, places, sectors, countries or regions are left behind in the transition from a high carbon to a low carbon economy”.

We ask all our trustees to be mindful of the above.

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Pensions Bulletin July 2023: Local Govt Pension Scheme

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Pensions Bulletin

Consultation: The Local Government Pension Scheme (England and Wales): Next steps on investments

    Many of you may have seen the recent announcement about the West Midlands pension fund making its first investment in a private company through an innovative £25 million fund. The West Midlands Pension Fund has backed the Birmingham-based healthcare company Medmin, which is providing private elective surgery for people with savings and has raised £1.45 million in total. The pension fund has teamed up with the West Midlands Combined Authority to create the £25 million fund and the pair are jointly investing £250,000 in Medmin via their fund manager Midven. The new fund, called the West Midlands Co-Investment Fund, was set up in March and will invest up to £1 million a time in companies based in the region over the next ten years.

    The deal comes days after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to release as much as £75 billion from UK pension plans for investment into unlisted companies to drive economic growth. As part of the reforms he is consulting on a proposal to set local government schemes an “ambition” of doubling their existing investments in private equity to 10 per cent.

    Such cooperations between Local Government Pension Funds and private Bodies are not so unusual. For example, in 2012 Manchester City Council struck a ground-breaking deal in 2012 with the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to build family homes for market rent and sale.

    The council provided the land and GMPF funded the house building. This was the first time a council pension scheme had used its finances to support a key council aim of building homes and a string of other council pension funds – including Lancashire, Islington and the West Midlands – followed Manchester’s lead.

    However, whilst new regulations (introduced in 2016) allow councils to invest more of their pension funds in partnership vehicles (which are traditionally used to deliver infrastructure projects) pension fund trustees still have to make sure their investments generate good returns (although they can accept lower rates for ESG projects that are consistent with their overall investment strategy).

    We should bear in mind though that it is the failure of government housing policy rather than potential pension finance, which is holding back affordable housing schemes. Also, social landlords can borrow money at better rates than from pension funds e.g. through banks or bonds and pension funds in any case may prefer to seek greater returns elsewhere. So pension fund investment into such capital scheme is not the panacea it is painted out to be and has not been universally adopted for these reasons.

    Further, although we could ask Trustees to support the policy, Pension Funds remain autonomous and are subject to much regulation including those that relate to transparency, openness and accountability as well as compliance with the fiduciary duty to protect members assets and seek returns on investments in the interest of pension fund (and GMB members). Any such investments would need to bear this in mind.

    Jeremy Hunt speech also expressed a desire to release more monies from UK pension schemes to drive economic growth following the former Chancellor George Osborne who introduced a change to Pension Fund regulations to allow them to invest in government infrastructure in 2015.

    At the time we welcomed the additional freedoms but we reminded Trustees that, as stated, Pension fund investments remain guided by returns on investments (RoI) rather than a desire to fund government infrastructure which often offered low returns over a longer term despite their security.

    The latest proposals are more worrying as the proposed carrot and stick approach simply seems to be a way to use Local Government Pension Scheme funds to fund government policy - the levelling up agenda in particular - without regard for the funds fiduciary duties nor the regulations that demand transparency and accountability. As they stand, we believe they pose a threat to the democratic running of funds and to members pension assets.

    Finally the Chancellor is also consulting on a proposal to set local government schemes an “ambition” of doubling their existing investments in private equity to 10 per cent. The short answer is NO! Not unless you show us the evidence that this guarantees a return on our investment.

    Pension funds are rightly prudent and cautious with their members monies, we do not follow whims, investors in Thames Water will tell you why!

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    Pensions Bulletin July 2023

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    Pensions Bulletin

    Changes to the Annual Allowance (AA) and Lifetime Allowance (LTA)

      In March the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced changes to the above; Abolishing the LTA means that you can now put as much money as you like into your pension fund over the course of your working life without it being liable to tax (the previous limit was £1,073,100). Although this seems a high figure an increasing number of (generally higher paid and long serving) workers were being caught out by it and this incentivised them to either leave the service or retire earlier. This especially impacted on higher paid NHS workers (e.g. Doctors and Consultants) and Local Government Workers (Chief Executives) who often left their employment as a consequence. However, given the small number of people involved this has been described as a giveaway to the rich.

      The second move was to increase the AA (the amount you can put into your pension fund tax free each year) from £40,000 to £60,000.

      Although the LTA has been abolished the limit on how much you can take from your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum remains the same. Previously it was 25% of the £1,073,100 LTA. This will now be limited to £268,275.

      Plug Your State Pension Gap

        Under the new State Pension system introduced in April 2016 one typically needs a 35yr National Insurance contribution to qualify for the full state pension (currently £203.85 per week in the new system). Deductions are made for any missing years in your record, but you can remedy the gaps* by paying the missing amounts. Under normal rules it is only possible to plug gaps in your NI Record up to 6 years after the year in question. However, under a special government scheme that expires in April 2025, you can fill them in for any year from 2006.

        Bearing in mind that one year’s NI contributions (approximately £825) adds an extra 1/35th to your state pension (approximately £303 p.a.) it is certainly worth considering filling any gaps.

        You can check your state pension forecast at Check your State Pension forecast - GOV.UK (

        * Gaps can be caused by for example career breaks (for childcare etc), working abroad or earning a low income

        Climate Change

          As climate change intensifies investors are paying increasing attention to the environmental, social and governance criteria of pension funds and seeking to make pension fund investment a force for good. The business case for switching is straightforward especially as climate change creates huge financial risk.

          The Gender Pensions Gap

            The income gap between men and women in retirement varies in each sector; it is between 32% and 44% in the private sector and between 29% and 63% in the 4 big public sector schemes (Civil Service, NHS, Teachers and Local Government). This is unacceptably high and represents an average shortfall of over £7,000 in annual pension income for women, impacting on women’s finances, quality of life and health.

            Pensions are overwhelmingly a derivative of pay making this a Trade Union issue. So along with other Trade Unions the GMB is campaigning to:

            • Seek a standard definition of the gender pensions gap and publish time series estimates of its size. This would increase the attention given to the issue and encourage action to tackle it.
            • Address its causes such as: Lower Salaries, Career Breaks, Unavoidable Child (and other) Care responsibilities, Part Time Work, Auto Enrolment, Menopause, Divorce, State Benefits, Financial Confidence
            • Outline Solutions such as: Recognition of caring in the pensions system, better childcare and shared parental leave responsibilities, increased provision of partner pensions, abolish arbitrary financial thresholds that debar entry to the government auto enrolment (AE) scheme and increase employer contributions in the AE scheme.

            We will never stop campaigning on this issue!

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