Council’s pension pot ‘is healthy’

COUNCIL bosses in Boston insist that their pension pot is ‘healthy’ in the long term, despite figures showing that the fund has a deficit of £16.8 million.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has released a report on the Local Government Pension Scheme which shows Boston Borough Council’s pension fund assets are £35,039,000 compared to a liability of £51,842,000.

That leaves a deficit of £16,803,000 and using a population figure of 59,042 its says the debt is the equivalent of £285 per person.

Boston’s deficit is far from the highest, with some other council’s share standing at more than £1,000 per tax payer.

South Holland District Council’s is £192 per person and East Lindsey’s is £164. The figure for Lincoln is £439 and for Lincolnshire County Council is £463.

Peter Linfield, Boston Borough Council’s head of finance, said: “Locally the scheme has assets which partly offset liabilities should every member have to be paid a pension today.

“The purpose of the scheme is that it is viable in the long term.

“In reality, investments and continuing contributions mean that the scheme is healthy in the long term and can continue to meet its demands for the next 20 years and beyond.

“This is a national problem and work continues to reduce the scheme deficit with more than £15 million taken off this in 2010/11 alone.

“The scheme has uniform benefits across all the councils who are members. Contributions from employees and the organisation fund these in common with any contributory scheme.”

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, said the figures were out of date and not relevant to the actual cost of pension schemes.

The LGA says that the total deficit has fallen by £37 billion and that work continues to bring the gap between the assets and liabilities down.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance says local government pensions are better funded than other public sector schemes but is calling for greater employee contributions and to freeze entitlements at current levels.