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The difference between private sector and public sector pension arrangements?

The release of Lord Hutton's report into public sector pension schemes perfectly illustrates how an explosion in the number of public-sector workers in the UK has contributed to an ever-growing liability for UK taxpayers. The vast majority of public-sector pension arrangements are based on an employee's final salary which can often bear little or no resemblance to the potential investment return on the pension funds in question. So why is there such a big difference between the private sector and the public sector pension setup?

The truth is that the public sector is guaranteed by the UK taxpayer and boom and bust periods in the UK economy have no impact upon funding arrangements. However, boom and bust scenarios have a major impact upon private companies which can in many cases lead to pension fund deficits and cash flow problems. When you also take into account the fact that private pension funds are invested in the stock market in the UK and worldwide assets for the future, thereby exposing them to the varying rates of return, this can and does have a major impact upon the final funding available to each and every pension scheme member.

Final salary pension schemes are few and far between in the private sector today despite the fact they are commonplace in the public sector. The UK government needs to reduce the difference between public sector pension payments and private sector pension payments otherwise more and more UK taxpayers will be funding public sector arrangements while they struggle to arrange their own funding for the future.

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