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Wednesday 11 July 2012

TPA – Another Public Pension Porkie

Another day, another slice of Government-demonising propaganda from the dubiously talented array of non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). Today’s “report” asserts that it “reveals substantial rise in council staff drawing pensions compared to those paying in”. This will be sufficient to frighten hard pressed hacks and editors.

More bore from the second floor

But, as ever with TPA propaganda, this is selectively presented information, and a little examination reveals the attempted sleight of hand. For starters, there is no attempt to address the analysis of the Hutton report, from which it is once again necessary to reproduce the graph showing the declining cost of local Government pensions over future years.

What they aren't telling you

Today’s “report, authored by up and coming non-job holder Chris Daniel, ignores the question of cost altogether. This alone is sufficient to render it totally invalid, but all those media outlets with their agendas to satisfy will look at the pages of seemingly authoritative figures – 23 out of 28 in the document – and make the (false) assumption that this means it can be taken on trust.

And that is the TPA way: this is an organisation that understands the pressure under which hacks and bosses operate. The message is given, and few will stop to look at the figures, let alone question what is missing – which in this case is the actual cost to taxpayers. Instead, old whoppers are recycled, such as asserting that £1 of every £5 in Council Tax goes on pensions (the actual figure is 25p).

How does the TPA manage to skate over the cost omission? Simples. Daniel instead homes in on the numbers of current and potential future pension claimants. This is accompanied by the restatement of the “£54 billion pensions black hole” claim, which, as I pointed out at the time, is utterly invalid unless all future local Government claimants retire at once, which they will not be doing.

Then there is talk of “deferred” pension claimants. This is phrased so as to look suitably ominous. But all that it means is that people who were in the local Government scheme are no longer contributing, usually because they are no longer working in that sector. So these are folks who have a less than full entitlement, and as to the liability, without the figures, it is not known what this may be.

Likewise those claiming at present: it is no use presenting a graph showing the numbers rising without also telling how much they are drawing out. With many councils shedding employees, there will be lots with a small pension entitlement, but the overall liability will be less. So it suits the TPA scaremongering to quote headcount and ignore the cost.

That’s how the TPA cons the press. And it’s not good enough.

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