Before Christmas, the Government announced they would begin a consultation on proposals to end the ability for Councillors to join the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).
To me, this seemed like an entirely sensible step. We need to find ways to reduce Labour’s debt mountain, and being a Councillor is not a career, nor should it ever be seen as one. Sadly the Labour Party seem to think that Councillors should retain this perk, paid for by local taxpayers, many of whom do not have access to generous pensions themselves. Critics – including sadly many in my own Party, particularly on the LGA – are suggesting that the lack of pension is a barrier to standing. Seriously, who runs for Council for the pension?
It’s important that local Councils do what they can to ensure that as many people as possible are able to stand and become Councillors. By making a mountain out of the pension molehill, we’re distracting ourselves from the real issues that prevent working-age people from becoming Councillors – including the proliferation of daytime meetings arranged by (it must be said) mainly self-interested Labour Councils like Salford and Manchester. To take one example, there are plenty of teachers who live here in the City – and they couldn’t possibly run for Council as they’d never be able to make the meetings except in school holidays. That’s wrong.