Retired States workers not paid pension rise

Thousands of retired States workers have been denied a pension increase they were due in January.

(Picture by Luke Le Prevost)
(Picture by Luke Le Prevost)

A payroll error meant their pensions were not increased in line with inflation.

Nearly 5,000 former nurses, teachers and other public sector workers are affected. About a third of them receive less than £5,000 a year.

‘Regrettably, this inability to implement an agreed uplift in a timely manner represents a failure of the Policy & Resources Committee to effectively discharge its responsibility to nearly 5,000 people,’ said Retired States Employees’ Association president Sean McManus.

‘These are people who have served our islands, both Guernsey and Alderney, during their working lives. P&R has a duty to ensure that they keep their side of the pension bargain.

‘Participation in that pension scheme was compulsory for most public sector employees, but it also ensured that they made responsible financial provision for their retirement.

‘Pension payments represent deferred wages and some retired people rely upon the money. The timing is particularly unfortunate, especially in the currently challenging financial climate.’

Inflation is running above 8% locally.

The States apologised to its retired employees.

‘This was an error resulting from workload and resourcing challenges within the payroll function,’ it said.

‘January has proven to be an exceptionally challenging period with multiple pay awards being processed and the pension uplifts being more complicated than in previous years.

‘The uplift will be applied in February, including payment of January arrears.’

Mr McManus said politicians responsible for employment matters should be held accountable.

‘For now we await a full explanation from the political members of P&R, whose mandate includes responsibility for this important area of administration,’ he said.

‘Perhaps the old truism applies: that inadequate levels of resourcing lead to suboptimal levels of service.’

The association was informed of the details late last week, only two or three working days before retired States workers expected to receive their uplifted pension payments.

Dozens of its members have been in touch with the association to see what is going on.

‘Sadly, it seems that P&R has yet to take on board a fundamental principle of modern pension scheme governance – that the administrators of the scheme communicate regularly with members of the scheme,’ said Mr McManus.

‘Despite verbal assurances from previous members of P&R, the association, as the voice of retired members of the scheme, has still not been given the means to communicate with all retired workers.’

The States said that it was not certain until last week that the uplifts could not be paid in January.

‘The payroll team worked right until the late January cut-off point to try to make the payments in January as normal,’ it said.

Mr McManus could not recall a previous occasion when the annual increase was not paid on time.

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