The following is a message from NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby and president Chris Harrison:
You will hear the Chief Secretary of the Treasury announce today that progress has been made on pensions. You will hear a great deal of spin from all sorts of directions. Here's what has actually happened.
Following the action on the 30th November we have been negotiating actively and quietly with the government. We have not signed a deal - we cannot and would not make such a decision behind closed doors. We have reached a point where we have produced some 'parameters' for the pension scheme which we believe:
You will be perfectly entitled to reject the principles. We will not escalate any industrial action while this process takes place.
In our opinion, the government has treated the profession with contempt and greatly harmed its standing and welfare. We have, however, prevented a reversion to the original offer and won considerable additional benefits at the same time.
We will follow up with more detailed information and a revised pension calculator to take account of the new arrangement (it has NOT yet been changed), but three headlines include:
A shift from 1/65th to 1/57th accrual rates, which mitigate some of the effect of a career average scheme;
Transitional protection extended first to 10 years and then to 13.5 on a tapered basis;
Early retirement benefits to make it cheaper to retire early (with less of an actuarial reduction).
There are significant areas still to resolve, including the critical issue of contribution rates. The government has imposed the first tranche of increases, but further tranches and the entire structure post 2015 are still up for discussion. We need to achieve a flatter structure. In addition, NAHT have proposed flexible arrangements whereby members can vary their contributions up or down to achieve particular effects (saving income during difficult periods, for example, or retiring early).
It is our understanding that all eight unions party to the talks on the teachers scheme have adopted the same basic position, although they've chosen to express it in very different ways! At times, sadly, internal politics and union rivalry have carried more weight than the interests of the profession...
Expect more detailed information from us, and a formal survey of member views in the New Year.
In the meantime, we wish you a peaceful and refreshing Christmas break. It has been a pleasure to work with you all during a tumultuous year and a privilege - if daunting at times - to try to represent your interests during pensions negotiations. We firmly believe that school leaders have achieved astonishing things over the last few years in the face of mounting odds. You deserve a fair reward and full credit.
Russell Hobby, general secretary
Chris Harrison, president
Page Published: 20/12/2011