'Thousands worse off' as BBC makes changes to staff pensions

By Caitlin Pike

The NUJ has hit out at planned changes to the BBC pension scheme, which it claims will result in thousands of staff working longer, paying more and receiving reduced benefits.

The BBC is the latest high-profile employer to reveal it aims to scrap its current final salary pension scheme.

The union is to consult members on the BBC’s plans and may ballot for industrial action against the changes.

According to the NUJ, the BBC plans to introduce a new pension scheme for new staff from September.

The union says the changes will mean the closure of the final salary pension scheme to new starters, and its replacement with a career average scheme, which will leave new starters an average of 30 per cent worse off than their colleagues.

The plans include an increase in the normal retirement age to 65 in 2016 and an increase in contributions for existing staff from 5.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent by 1 April 2007, with a likely further increase to 9 per cent from 1 April 2008.

BBC director general Mark Thompson said that the corporation’s pension scheme faced numerous financial pressures, including longer life expectancy, lower investment returns and higher regulatory costs.

"The pressures on the scheme mean that for it to remain secure and affordable, we have to make some changes both to its benefits and to the level at which it is funded by the BBC and its members. Doing nothing is not an option."

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "For both existing and new staff, this will come as a bitter blow. The BBC will create a two-tier workforce, force some staff to work longer and expect all staff to pay more for the privilege of doing so.

"All those under 50 face paying more and working five years longer simply to get the same pension.

"The BBC should halt the planned changes. The NUJ will consult with members over the coming days and our reps will meet next week to consider their response. What is clear is we will not accept attempts to make staff pay for the BBC’s failure to properly fund the scheme."

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