The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are up here. Aside from the normal trackers questions in this week’s poll largely cover representation of women in politics and educational issues.

The Conservative apparently think they are struggling amongst women and there is some truth to this. Prior to Christmas the regular YouGov polls were showing the Conservatives still leading amongst women while they fell behind amongst men – this year Labour have more usually lead amongst both groups – certainly it looks at first glance as though the Tory advantage amongst women is fading. The graph below shows a two week rolling average of the Tory lead amongst men & women in the weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll.

YouGov asked about perceptions of which party best represented various groups – most followed the pattern you’d expect – the Conservatives were seen as better representing middle class people and the rich, Labour were seen as better representing the poorest, immigrants, trade unionists, pensioners, etc. For our purposes here though we were really interested in who people perceived as being closer to women – 26% think Labour is closest to women and better understands their views compared to 13% for the Conservatives… but 26% say none of the parties do and 23% don’t know (it is even more pronounced amongst women voters, 32% of whom say none of the parties understand and reflect women’s views).

The reasons for the difference are hard to pin down – other questions in this poll showed that Labour were seen as having more women in senior roles, but it’s hard to say how much difference that actally makes. In terms of actually policy there is normally little difference between men and women policy. Women normally say they are concerned at pretty much the same issues as men (the idea that women care about “soft” issues like education and health and men care about “hard” issues like defence, crime and the economy is basically nonsense), and on most policy questions there is little difference between the genders – I’ve commented about this before, specifically in regard of attitudes toward nuclear power and energy and regulating pornography, which are unusual as being issues where there is a large gender difference.

In this poll YouGov asked a quick bank of policy questions looking for gender difference. In ending child benefit for families with top rate tax payers and criticising men who abandon their children – both issues where one could reasonably have expected to find contrasting attitudes between men and women there was no significant difference. Two policy areas that did have significant differences between women and men were tightening restrictions on sexualised music videos and adverts broadcast when children might see them and equalising the pension age at 66 by 2020.

Moving onto education, 24% of people think the government have the right polices, compared to 47% who think they have the wrong policies. There is also a perception that levels of teaching are worse than 10 years ago, and a very widespread perception that behaviour is worse (this, of course, is not a sign that education standards are actually falling – cf. perceptions of crime)

On schools, 42% of people think central government has too much power over schools, 27% think local councils have too much power, 28% that teaching unions do. In contrast 38% think parents do not have enough power over schools and 41% think headteachers do not have enough power. Despite this people are almost evenly split over support for academy schools – 36% support them, 36% oppose them. For “Free schools” the split is 34% support, 40% oppose.

Finally on the teachers’ strike, 38% said they supported industrial action by teachers, with 49% opposing it. There have been various polls asking support or opposition to the teachers’ strike over the last week or so – I will try to do a round up post covering them all later on tonight.


147 Responses to “YouGov on the “women’s vote” and education”

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  1. Roger Mexico

    Thanks-but I don’t really give a flying *uc* what Glastonbury was or was not like according to the Guardian.

    It’s a music festival……….at which an unfortunate man had died in a Portaloo apparently.

    My thoughts are with his family .

  2. Barney

    I owe you an apology about the implication that Scottish Labour were behind the insinuations that Roseanna Cunningham’s Catholicism influenced the proposed anti-sectarianism legislation. I misread the Scottish Review article and assumed that the briefing was coming from political opponents rather than the Mail’s own fetid imaginings. And of course I couldn’t check what was actually said, because the Mail hardly ever thinks Scottish stories important enough to put on their website.

    While I was trying to find out what the situation was, I discovered the usual ironies these things generate. The Review article rightly praised Cunningham by saying:

    In her answers to the justice committee at Holyrood, she was admirably even-handed in giving examples of the situations and contexts in which behaviour at football matches might be in violation of the proposed law. She spoke of the aggressive singing of the national anthem by Rangers supporters in a way calculated to inflame sectarian hatred. But she also explained – at greater length and from personal observation – how the sign of the cross could be abused by Celtic supporters for the same purpose.

    and continued:

    It was disturbing to observe yesterday how quickly the vilest of the Rangers’ unofficial websites picked up on Roseanna Cunningham’s religious affiliation and ran with it.

    but I also couldn’t help noticing though that, unmentioned by the Review, on the Celtic Supporters Association website, the reaction from the site administrator, Joe O’Rourke, wasn’t exactly laid back:

    Kenny Mc Askill now has a rival for the “Most Idiotic Politician of the Year Award” I thought I had heard it all when the bold Kenny praised the bile that was spewed at the Celtic support, and indeed all Catholics in the world during the Scottish League Cup Final.
    Well his colleague Roseanna Cunningham has now surpassed him in the race for the title. […] it was her next comment which I found to be both offensive and outrageous.
    The bold MSP, … states that, “The Sign of the Cross” in some cases could be deemed offensive […]
    This woman needs to explain to me in which way the sign of the cross could be deemed offensive. The Sign of the Cross is used globally on a daily basis to promote good not evil, I’m sure Peter Kearney and Archbishop Conti will have something to say about the comment, I’m also sure that some of the people who vote SNP; or were considering voting for them may have a change of heart.

    The full post is worth reading in all its Godwinian splendour.

    Of course since then, the ire has been turned on a Conservative MSP for pointing out the simple and obvious truth that segregated schooling may encourage sectarianism. This brought down the combined wrath of Labour, SNP and the Catholic hierarchy on his head.

    Meanwhile the whole ill-thought-out legislation has been deferred till it can be made more workable (or be quietly forgotten about).

    I must say that the whole affair has reminded me of the comic willingness of Scotland’s Catholic Establishment to embrace victimhood at the slightest excuse. The strange thing is that the more prominent, influential and bemedalled they are, the more eager to cry ‘poor little me’. Presumably the vast majority of ordinary Catholics find it as odd as the rest of us.

    There was an interesting article in the Guardian earlier this year:

    ht tp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/apr/24/scotland-sectarianism-research-data

    which tried to put what sectarianism that does exist in perspective. The comments are worth reading for their reaction to this idea.

  3. Latest Swedish VI poll:

    Novus/Sveriges Radio – ‘The Red-Greens have overtaken the Alliance’

    http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=4570701

    (Note: the Swedish state broadcasters SVT (telly) and SR (radio) regularly commission VI polls, in contrast to the BBC.)

  4. From THe Guardian-fount of all Glastonbury knowledge :-

    “Rupert Soames, a businessman and friend of Shale who was at Glastonbury and has been helping co-ordinate arrangements following the sudden death of his friend said through a spokesman that medics had told him and Shale’s family that they believe he died of a massive heart attack “around lunchtime” on Saturday.

    Shale, chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association, had been with his wife and two sons at the Somerset music festival and the family raised the alarm early on Sunday when they realised he had not returned to their accomodation, according to Neil Bennett, a spokesman for Soames.

    Shale was found dead in a portable toilet at around 9am and the medics who attended the scene estimated that he was dead inside the cubicle throughout most of the afternoon and through the night, Bennett said.

    “Christopher was a dear friend and we are all very much in shock,” said Soames, whose company Aggreko supplies the power to Glastonbury.

    Michael Eavis, the festival organiser had earlier told a press conference: “We’re told it is a suicide situation. It is very, very sad.”

    But later a police source indicated that ongoing investigations suggested the death was not suicide and Barry Norton, Cameron’s electoral agent in West Oxfordshire, said any suggestions that Shale did not die of a heart attack were “scurrilous”. “

  5. @ Chouenlai

    I was a finance director of a Uk company when I was 35 years old; I’m now an analyst for a Nasdaq corporation.
    8-)

  6. @AmberStar – “It was interesting that women seemed to accept that they’d need to take more of the Coalition medicine”

    Rachel Reeves has been active in coming up with an antidote though various articles and media appearances… a well received mini-dose at the 9 minute mark:

    h
    ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01269k5/Question_Time_23_06_2011/

  7. @ Colin

    Pensions are part of total remuneration. Mark’s pension is simply pay which he has decided will be paid directly into a pension fund. The Union he works for will, presumably honour that. Whereas the government seem to be attempting to wriggle out of their contractual obligations towards public sector workers.

    Furthermore, organisations & companies do pay 30% of salary to a pension, if that’s how an employee wants their remuneration to be structured. The idea that employers pay for employee pensions is inaccurate.

    What has been allowed to happen is: Employers are able to discount the salary of some employees. Workers who do not join a company pension scheme are missing out on that part of their salary which could have gone into a pension fund had the employee joined the scheme.

    This has fostered the mistaken belief that the employer pays for employees’ pensions; this is not correct – anybody with financial understanding knows that employees pay for their own pensions by allowing part of their salary to be paid in the form of pension contributions.
    8-)

  8. @ Billy Bob

    I saw Rachel on QT; she is impressive when on form.
    8-)

  9. Amber

    ” Mark’s pension is simply pay which he has decided will be paid directly into a pension fund.”

    No it isn’t.

    It isn’t pay. It is -assuming a funded scheme-whatever the Actuary for the Union Pension Scheme Trustees has told them needs to be paid into that scheme to meet the pension obligations when they arise.

    As for “The idea that employers pay for employee pensions is inaccurate.” this is complete nonsense.

    In the companies for which I was FD :-

    In cases where Defined Benefit Schemes were in place, the Triennial Actuarial Valuation of the Fund informed the Trustees of the Funding required to meet the pension obligations of the then membership.
    I as FD then presented my Board with this data & they decided what proportion would be asked for from employees & what proportion the company would pay.

    These matters were entirely unconnected with Pay Policy.The funding is entirely unrelated to pay levels-it is a function of the pension guarantee, the number of members & their ages & projected salaries at retirement.

    In cases where Defined Contribution Schemes were in place, the company simply decided what % of pay would be contributed by the company into the Pension Fund. The Pension Fund Trustees advised employees what options were available for their own contributions-which the company collected & paid into the Pension Fund. The Fund Trustees arranged Investment management . There is no need for Actuarial valuations because no promise of a given pension outcome was given.

    This is how it works in the Private Sector.

    If what you say is true-and that public sector workers really believe that the varying contributions demanded by the Funds Actuary ( in a funded scheme) -somehow emanate from a decision they have made to “allocate” these funds as delayed salary to themsel;ves-that explains a lot about the unrealistic world some of these people inhabit.

    Your statement that “This has fostered the mistaken belief that the employer pays for employees’ pensions; this is not correct ” is bizarre & complete nonsense.

    At least it is in the Private Sector-where the idea that a pension guarantee which requires 30% of salary to fund it is totally unsustainable if you wish to remain competitive & solvent.-two concepts which are alien in the Public Sector……………..hence the problem.

  10. I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to see tittle-tattle about Christopher Shale’s sad death on here. It’s not really a news item, frankly, unless you’re one of his friends or family.

  11. @Chouenlai

    “David Cameron’s reaction is one of utter grief. Your nasty, “I hope there is a scandal that ruins Cameron” reaction was a disgrace on this site. Other more sensible anti Tories simply said it’s to early to speculate.”

    I agree with you in essence, but you need to be a little more even-handed in your condemnation, I think. Not long ago there was some appalling celebratory gloating about Strauss Kahn from some regular right-leaning contributors to this site, purely, as far as I could see, because of his position in the French Socialist party. It was a headlong gallop to see him guilty, way before any semblance of due process of law and proper examination of his guilt had taken place. They danced on his grave, salivating at, and wallowing in, his predicament. It was ghastly partisanship at its worst and a cyberspace Star Chamber in full swing.

    The death of the gentleman at Glastonbury today is a tragedy for him and his family, as was David Kelly’s. It has nothing to do with party politics at all.

  12. Amberstar

    If your argument is that the contribution made by the employer is really part of the employees salary, then the pay in the public sector is even more skewed against the private sector than I thought. Already the average basic pay is much higher in the public sector.

    I am not very keen on cutting pensions of many front line services in the public sector on which I rely, at the same time I realise that in recent times the public sector has become bloated as part of government policy. Perhaps the answer is a two tier system.

    To reintroduce some fairness the taxation system should be reformed and returned to 1997 which would allow companies in the private sector to re-introduce comparable pension arrangements to the public sector. Perhaps once the Coalition has sorted out the financial mess this can be implemented. I am sure it would be popular with many who voted for it and some who did not.

  13. I think the YouGov findings are really interesting. Much of our opinions are shaped by PR or proganda and it appears that Labour is communicating with women at the moment better than the Tories, which is the opposite of what I thought.

  14. The teachers’ strike is a difficult one. On the one hand, it is easy to see them as acting in an extremely selfish manner; on the other, what options have they got? Finally, it is of course unlikely to help their cause.

    I sincerely hope that this matter is resolved before further strikes are called or it will cause real tensions in local communities.

    I agree that Amber’s comment re 30% of salary is a very odd one; it’s attitudes like this towards taxpayers’ money that has got us into the current predicament.

    Finally @ chouenlai: I can’t help but agree with your comment that on this website highly partisan commentators deploy even-handedness and polity as a mere figleaf for some deeply unpleasant views.

  15. Amberstar

    I understand your argument that employer’s contribution is part of the overall remuneration package. However if this is accepted would it not change the current stats on average salaries and show those with final salary pensions earning considerably more than is now recorded as their salary.

  16. @ Colin

    Let’s assume we are talking about the private sector: Employers consider the total cost to employ. It is neither here nor there to employers whether they pay the money as salary, pension contributions, company car, car allowance, healthcare, dental program etc.

    All the employer is interested in, is the total cost to employ. Therefore, contributions to pension schemes are entirely funded by what the employer is willing to pay, in total, to employ the person(s) recruited.

    The more an employer spends on pensions out of their ‘total employee cost pool’, the less they will spend on salaries. The total employer expenditure will be the same in total, either way. Therefore, I say again, pension contributions are entirely funded by the employees.
    8-)

  17. The deal was I got a slary plus pension and that pension is 1/80th of my final salary times the number of years I’ve worked, to a maximum of 40. The age I got it was going to be 60.

    That was the deal.

    If a deal is made in private industry (say, a bank) it is expected to be honoured. Look at Sir Frd Goodwin. he got his final salary pension EVEN THOUGH he had bankrupted the bank, the country and there was no money to pay it. We bailed the bank out and they use the money to pay his final salary pension.

    Why is his deal sacrosanct, bailed out by public money, and mine not? Mine will be CONSIDERABLY cheaper, I promise.

  18. Amber

    Out of several jobs I’ve had in the private sector, the largest employer pension contribution I’ve ever been offered is 7%. I expect most people in the private sector have had a similar experience. Why do you think the UK Government should offer 30%?

  19. Regarding Christopher Shale: I’m sorry the man died bit people will inevitably speculate given the timing, you can’t blame them for that. I think the piety shown here is a little wide of the mark.

    David Kelly’s death appeared highly suspicious, probably in a different ballpark to this.

  20. @Sergio

    “Why do you think the UK Government should offer 30%?”

    I don’t think they are – in the case we are talking about (Mark Serwotka), it is his union employers who are paying that.

    But the amount doesn’t matter. It’s a straighforward matter of principle. If someone is employed on a contract, they are entitled *absolutely* to see the terms of that contract honoured.

    Any lawyers out there who know whether changes imposed without agreement could be challenged in the courts?

  21. @Neil A – “It’s not really a news item, frankly, unless you’re one of his friends or family.”

    However, it has been necessary to brief the press that there was a family history of heart trouble; that although he had recieved a text from No 10 advising him to speak to party hq but not to speak to reporters, “The story in the Mail on Sunday did not concern us that much”. He was “a robust character who would not be fazed by the interplay of media and politics”, and his death was “just a dreadful coincidence”.

    Nevertheless, the etiology of a heart attack can be a complex matter and speculation is sadly of no help now .

  22. @ Henry

    However if this is accepted would it not change the current stats on average salaries and show those with final salary pensions earning considerably more than is now recorded as their salary.
    ————————————-
    Yes, it would & it should.
    8-)

  23. @ Sergio

    Why do you think the UK Government should offer 30%?
    —————————————————-
    To deal with your second question first: I don’t believe I put a figure on what proportion of public sector employee salaries should held back as ‘notional’ employer contributions. What I said was:

    “I really do hope that the Tory PR machine takes your suggested approach… Our response: Unions, from small membership contributions, can pay decent pensions – why can’t one of the biggest per capita economies in the world do the same?”

    By which I meant that having agreed this pension arrangement, out of Mark’s salary, one assumes that the Union is legally bound to fulfil that contractual obligation. Why should the Uk government be able to dodge their contractual responsibilities?
    8-)

  24. @ Sergio

    Out of several jobs I’ve had in the private sector, the largest employer pension contribution I’ve ever been offered is 7%.
    ———————————————
    I don’t want to be impertinent & ask what you do &/or what you earn. I’m assuming you are not in an executive position. The pensions for executives in many schemes are eye-watering.

    Keep in mind, there is a pool of money in every company for employee costs. How that pool is shared depends on the corporate culture… some companies have massive pay & pension differentials with a select few getting the lion’s share; some are much fairer.

    Some corporations believe that the company benefits from structuring pay & pensions in a way that gives the employees their cash now to spend/ save as they wish; others are more paternal & try to ensure their employees are saving towards a good pension.

    That’s the only difference: Whether your company has a culture of paternalism, liberalism or something in between. IMO, 7% is a low figure (allows the person to have a higher take home pay to spend as they choose).
    8-)

  25. AmberStar

    “The pensions for executives in many schemes are eye-watering.”

    That is true, but it is only for a tiny minority of people at the very top. This may be unfair, but there it is. It does not justify ordinary workers in the public sector having far superior pensions to ordinary workers in private industry.

    I have worked in both, and can confirm what Sergio says.

  26. @ Amber Star

    “I was a finance director of a Uk company when I was 35 years old; I’m now an analyst for a Nasdaq corporation.”

    Wow, that is very impressive.

    @ Neil A

    “I have to admit, I’m a little surprised to see tittle-tattle about Christopher Shale’s sad death on here. It’s not really a news item, frankly, unless you’re one of his friends or family.”

    I agree. I’m sorry for your Prime Minister as he’s apparently lost a very close friend. Not really a news item though.

  27. @ Pete B

    I’ll just say it again, if public sector workers have better pensions than those in the private sector, it’s because a greater proportion of their salary is retained to fund pension costs.

    And if teachers total pay – in salary & pension rights – is already too high, why are the government about to launch a scheme where new graduates will receive a £20,000 signing on fee because it’s difficult to attract new graduates to train as teachers? Why would it be difficult to recruit, if teachers are already better remunerated than their equivalent in the private sector?
    8-)

  28. @ SoCaL

    Thank you :-)

    It’s a great company & I really enjoy being part of it. I sometimes think about starting a new career in politics or public service but I’d find it difficult to leave such a successful corporation because I really like the people I work with & the corporate ethics/culture.
    8-)

  29. @ Amber Star

    “It’s the economy.

    Women want the deficit gone, the meme about leaving debts for our children to pay struck a chord with women; they were also told (if Yvette Cooper is to be believed) that women will be disproportionately affected by the cuts. It was interesting that women seemed to accept that they’d need to take more of the Coalition medecine, if they wanted the country back on its feet.

    Then, in January, the economy was down & borrowing was up. Women decided the government weren’t keeping their side of the bargain: VAT went up, inflation was rising & negative GDP was reported.

    By the way, I believe Ed Balls saying VAT should be cut to help the economy was a policy aimed at women; IMO, he will be very aware of the change in Women’s VI from around the time VAT was raised. He was looking to lock it in for Labour.”

    I think that people don’t want to feel like they’re sacrificing and feeling pain for no reason at all. And that’s assuming they accepted the neccessity of sacrifice and pain. If that’s the case with a large chunk of women voters, I could imagine there would be a sense of betrayal.

  30. @ Colin

    These matters were entirely unconnected with Pay Policy.The funding is entirely unrelated to pay levels-it is a function of the pension guarantee, the number of members & their ages & projected salaries at retirement.
    ——————————————————–
    You are not thinking logically. If the employees did not earn the money which your company was paying into the pension fund – what were you, as a finance director, thinking? Why would somebody as responsible as you seem to be, allow ‘your’ company to splurge its funds on employee costs that the employees hadn’t earned?

    To answer my own question: You wouldn’t & you didn’t. The employees had earned that money or you wouldn’t have paid it.

    Therefore, the fact of the matter is: It was the employees’ money – which the company held onto – until the actuaries informed you that it was required by the fund to meet the contractual agreements that the company had made with its employees. Therefore you were paying their earnings to the pension fund. Any other interpretation equals your company needlessly giving money away.

    Now, would you like to withdraw your assertion…

    “As for ‘The idea that employers pay for employee pensions is inaccurate.’ this is complete nonsense.”?

    … & admit that pensions are part of employees’ contractual earnings, or would you prefer that people think you & your board needlessly gave away the company’s money to fund pensions which the employees had not earned? ;-)

  31. @ Amber Star

    “Thank you

    It’s a great company & I really enjoy being part of it. I sometimes think about starting a new career in politics or public service but I’d find it difficult to leave such a successful corporation because I really like the people I work with & the corporate ethics/culture.”

    You’re welcome.

    Finding work where you’re happy is extremely dififcult. Moreso today than ever when so many struggle to find work. So if you like what you do and enjoy who you work with, it’s probably not a bad idea to stay put.

    As for a career in politics, I’m sure you’d be good at it. It’d be amazing if I watched PMQ’s one day and saw you “Omg! I know that gal!!” It requires a great deal of sacrifice though. You have to give up a great deal of your personal privacy and you have to put up with a lot of crazy constituents.

    I love politics and naturally gravitate towards it but I’m not sure it’s a career for me. I don’t think I’ve ever run for office. But working for politicians (or maybe working on the Hill) has some appeal. I once worked on a presidential campaign as a lowly field organizer. It was the experience of a lifetime but it doesn’t pay the bills and it’s not a permanent career.

  32. Amber

    “Therefore, contributions to pension schemes are entirely funded by what the employer is willing to pay, ”

    Agreed.

    “Therefore, I say again, pension contributions are entirely funded by the employees”

    Say it as many times as you like Amber-it’s still complete nonsense.

  33. NICK

    “The deal was I got a slary plus pension and that pension is 1/80th of my final salary times the number of years I’ve worked, to a maximum of 40. The age I got it was going to be 60.”

    What did your Contract of Emp[loyment say about Employer/Employee contributions ?

  34. Amberstar

    Unfortunately pensions aren’t treated as contractual responsibilities in the same way that salaries are. For a start they are usually separated in contracts of employment (“you have the right to join the pension scheme”).

    In practice they have been messed about with in the private sector for some time, reducing the fraction earned per year of service, closing schemes to new members, closing schemes for current members etc…

    In addition, pensions are not covered by TUPE legislation – if you are outsourced, or your company splits, your pension tends to evaporate.

    However, it is impressive that the Tories have managed to successfully persuade us that the failure of pension schemes is Gordon Brown’s fault. Yet again it seems they believe that he has super powers… Company pensions were shutting in droves across the world (in fact in my company the US scheme closed years before the UK one) and there are clearly two factors: we are all living longer, and companies see flexible workforces as a way of replacing expensive resources with far cheaper ones – pushing those savings straight to the bottom line.

  35. Colin

    Two things

    First the Civil Service Pension scheme was overhauled under the last government and the Classic replaced with a 60th scheme which has larger contributions and has built in a possibility of increased contributions and/or retirement age. Howvere the deal was never designed to SAVE money, merely to stop costs increasing. So the current intention to make civil servants pay to reduce the deficit is clearly a brech of terms and conditions. Lord Hutton said that this rearrangement had already addressed the problem.

    The other thing is that Lord Hutton made two basic and largley unchallenged errors. First he said that there was no evidence that public sector pay is on average lower than private sector pay. This is obviously untrue. Even if he doesn’t accept the evidence, the unions or even google will provide a huge heap of evidence if he wants it.

    More important, he “shows” that piblic sector pay is as good as private by comparing the whole cost of pensionable public pay with loosely comparable unpensioned private pay.

    Well, duh! That’s the point. It is a clear indication that pension IS part of pay, and the acceptance that accrued rights are untouchable is a tacit admission thereof.

    If they want me to pay more, retire later and get less (as well as have indexation linked to a lower inflation measure) at the same time as enduring a pay freeze and high cost of living rises then they are going to have a fight on their hands.

    Something needs to be done about the way the private sector asset strippers have stolen the pensions of the workers. The solution is NOT to steal the public sector pensions too.

    After all, why is the tax payer subsidising all those employers by supporting pension-less retirees while the board members pile up final salary pensions and perks and send their kids to private schools and hospitals?

  36. Amber

    “You are not thinking logically. If the employees did not earn the money which your company was paying into the pension fund – what were you, as a finance director, thinking? Why would somebody as responsible as you seem to be, allow ‘your’ company to splurge its funds on employee costs that the employees hadn’t earned?”

    Don’t understand the question.

    Provision of a pension fund & its terms is within the gift of the employer-as are all employee remuneration & employment linked benefits.

    My companies decided on pay levels , pension schemes etc on the same basis as other companies-a mix of what the market indicates it takes to attract good people, what constitutes good employment practice-and what can be afforded.

    “Now, would you like to withdraw your assertion…
    “As for ‘The idea that employers pay for employee pensions is inaccurate.’ this is complete nonsense.”?”

    Absolutely not. :-)

    “& admit that pensions are part of employees’ contractual earnings”

    That will depend on individual Contracts of Employment. Employers retain the right to change Pension Scheme offerings.Employers in the private sector have switched from Defined Benefit schemes to Defined Contribution schemes in droves .This has been because the Employers contribution is open ended , uncontrollable & escalating.It is essentially a function of the difference between pay inflation & returns made by the Fund Managers. Both are unknowable into the future-particularly the latter which is entirely outwith the control of the company.
    The change is usually brought about by closing the existing scheme to new entrants-sometimes transfering existing employees to DC schemes for future service.

    All pension benefits accrued under the old scheme to the date of change are always protected.

  37. Amber

    “You are not thinking logically”

    The company I worked for longest was listed on London SE-so I was subject to the listing rules of the Yellow Book-as well as the relevant accounting standards for Pension Scheme accounting …….& everything else !

    I had to think logically :-) ;-)

    Off out with my camera now to try & get a female Lejops vittatus :-) :-) :-)

  38. I think before we talk about employee’s “getting less” from their pension schemes, we should probably look at longevity. You may be getting “less” in terms of the actual annual payment, but the truth is that employees in 2011 get far more than employees in 1961 got from the same scheme.

    I can retire at 51, with a pension of 2/3rds final salary. On average I will die at around the age of 80. So I will have spent almost as long drawing my pension as I did paying into it.

    When calculating the total “pay and pension” package (and I agree with Amber that it is reasonable to view it that way, especially in the public sector, although public sector workers would have baulked at the idea when they were busy complaining about how low their salaries were compared to the private sector), I think you have to look at how much total value the employee is likely to draw from the pension.

    You’d probably find that even a sharp reduction in annual pensions would still leave the “total” value of the pension higher than it was when the scheme was designed.

  39. I have only this to say… Let’s consider for a moment that Colin et al are correct, and that public sector teachers do get an inordinate amount of pension above their private sector counterparts.

    So then, what do we do about it?

    Do we make employment terms in the public sector worse by reducing the pension, and making it no better at all to be employed in public sector schools than private sector schools?

    Let’s say that again… Do we want there to be no reason at all for someone to take a job in a public sector school over a private one, or even leave the country to teach elsewhere?

    Is that a good outcome for the nation?

  40. @Sergio

    “David Kelly’s death appeared highly suspicious, probably in a different ballpark to this.”

    Only “suspicious” amongst those who wished it to be so, but not Dr Kelly’s family nor those who thoroughly investigated the circumstances behind the death. They all concluded suicide.

    As for Mr Shale, who seems by all accounts to have died from entirely natural causes, the leaked memo that he sent to a small number within his party, outlining a strategy to recruit more local members, does contain some startlingly frank views about his local Conservative Association. He describes them as “graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take etc etc” and cites these unappealing characteristics as a reason for their failure to reach out and attract new members.

    An extraordinary admission from someone at the heart of his local Conservative Party and so close to Cameron’s inner circle. The decontamination policy obviously has many more miles to wearily tread!

  41. Colin
    “Provision of a pension fund & its terms is within the gift of the employer-as are all employee remuneration & employment linked benefits.”

    Wrong. The rate of remuneration and benefits etc are agreed between the parties.

    A fundamental change to terms and conditions imposed without agreement is grounds for a claim of constructive dismissal.

    I suggest you should also read up about rights of employees to appoint pension representatives and what the duties are of those people. You should also look at the duties on trustees.

    The findamental difference between the public sector and much of the private sector is that there a lack of rela negotiating bodies in the latter leading to situations where the employers simply decide and impose changes in terms and conditions.

  42. It does seem to me that the main difference between the Private sector and the Public sector in terms of employee relations, is that employees are less likely to know their rights, less likely to have collective bargaining, and more likely to have their rights abused by people who declare that ‘this is the way things are done in the Private sector’.

  43. @ Colin

    Provision of a pension fund & its terms is within the gift of the employer-as are all employee remuneration & employment linked benefits.
    ——————————————————–
    They absolutely are not within the ‘gift’ of employers. e.g. I am contractually entitled to all sorts of benefits & my employer cannot withdraw any of them without my agreement. It is basic contract law.
    8-)

  44. This is all idealogy and received wisdom. Public service is valuable and deserves the fairly rewarded.

    Longevity does vary from person to person so the argument that “we are all living longer” is demonstrably false.

    Suppose that the employer is nominally contributing 30% of the salary to pay for future pensions, based upon average life expectancy. Now…is this the average life of a public servant, a Brit, a UK citizen, a Southerner or a Human Being? Has life expectancy increased world-wide? Even UK-wide, has it increased consistently, or do some post codes live comparatively brutallly short lives?

    I think there is a case for reform of the top end of public service AND private sector pensions to stop senior executives bleeding the system dry. An upper limit of some multiple of the mean might help. What about legislation to ensure that board level pay is no more than x multiple of the lowest rate of pay in the company?

    In London & SE the civil service has a recruitment problem at lower levels already due to low pay rates. Soon you won’t attract staff who can do anything more than breathe.

    If you think privatisationn will provide better value for the tax payer or even as good a service, you clearly don’t read the literature, or don’t care what it says.

  45. Bit of a not particularly relevant spat on pensions by the look of it.

    @Amberstar is right with the idea that pay + pension =total salary costs, and that any employer would look at the total cost allocated to salaries and work out what it could afford and negotiate on that basis. In this sense, it would be correct to say that there is a balance between pay and pensions and that employees do forego current pay for future pension entitlement in very broad terms.

    @Colin is (I think) trying to get at the point regarding the changing costs of future pension commitments, and is I think also correct in much of what he says. If pension terms are agreed but then costs of meeting these rise rapidly due to non employment issues such as life expectancy, annuity rates or changed actuarial requirements, the employer cannot simply switch part of it’s total salary bill from wages to pension funds.

    As far as I can make out, you are both correct but you are tending to argue different things.

    The bottom line is that everyone seems to agree that previously earned pension entitlement seem to be sacrosanct. To unilaterally remove rights earned under employment contract would be tantamount to theft, as employees agreed to work under agreed terms with that particular balance of wages and pension rights and employers agreed to pay for it.

    Future pension rights, as with future wages, are up for grabs, but I wouldn’t go so far as @Colin and claim they are merely in the gift of employers. Whether formallly via unions and employers sitting down and talking or via the employment market, it is a negotiation with each side seeking to get appropriate terms.

    So what am I trying to say here?

    I’ve no idea. It’s just that the sun is shining and I can’t bear to see people arguing on such a lovely day.

  46. And talking of sunny days and happiness, there’s nothing like a spot of doom to cheer me up.

    Rob Peston’s blog gives me a great Monday morning boost – h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13925465

    I have often talked about the debt hangover and how it could affect the economy, but I think this covers the subject very well. By not shaking out the bad debtors during the depth of the crisis the banks have effectively hidden bad loans to falsely protect their capital ratios.

    As a weak economic recovery gets underway it becomes progressively harder to hide these poor assets.

    It’s very similar to the sovereign debt crises we are seeing. Ireland and Greece wanted to buy themselves time for growth to cover debts, but the growth hasn’t come and they must now default. Ireland has already defaulted and Greece will follow – although they might try and get away with calling it a restructuring.

    Increasingly I’m feeling that Osborne’s strategy of four years of pain followed by one pre election year of bounty will fail. I think we will struggle to make much headway on the debt ratios as we are about to pitch into a second credit crisis.

    What I don’t know about is where the political blame will lie. I felt Cameron was dreadfully premature in claiming the economy was ‘out of the danger zone’ and I think he will be haunted by that quote for a long time, but governments don’t always go down if the problem is seen as global and beyond their control.

    I guess the risk for the coalition is in past promises, but future polling impacts on that basis are hard to predict.

    Another credit crisis – I’m have such a fun Monday morning……….

  47. @Alec

    DC is double bound over this. He established the government as being ‘to blame’ for all economic woes in order to be elected, now he will reap that burden by either accepting the blame or admitting that Labour were not the cause of all economic problems. His only potential saviour will be the decreasingly unlikely chance of true economic recovery within the lifetime of this parliament. Both unlikely in terms in that the current course looks tricky all the way to 2015, and that holding the coalition together is hardly assured.

  48. Oh, Lord…

    The contact details for the newfangled Institute and Faculty of Actuaries are here: h ttp://www.actuaries.org.uk/contact . They will be happy to deal with any pension queries you have, given enough time and money.

    Broadly speaking, the situation is this:
    * Any pension benefits you have accrued to the present moment are protected – the employer cannot alter them (1) retrospectively.
    * Any pension benefits you accrue from the present moment onwards are a matter between you and your employer – the employer can (within certain limits) cut them as easily as he can cut your pay.

    Regards, Martyn

    * (1) Although what those benefits will be *worth* monetarily is a different matter – hence the popularity of defined contribution schemes versus defined benefits schemes.

  49. Jayblanc
    ‘It does seem to me that the main difference between the Private sector and the Public sector in terms of employee relations, is that employees are less likely to know their rights, less likely to have collective bargaining, and more likely to have their rights abused by people who declare that ‘this is the way things are done in the Private sector’.

    The vast majority of the private sector are small businesses where the entrepreneur gets barely more than anyone else and the company knows that everyone’s pay depends on its competiveness with the rest of the world. The country depends on these companies for its survival. The fact that the previous adminisatration favoured both the FTSE 100 global organisations, and in particular banks and the state sector contributed to our present financial problems.

    Hopefully the Coalition will start rebuilding small and medium size businesses, neglected over the past thirteen years, rewarding hard work and success and cutting out red tape, and as a result not only will we the public be better served by competitive organisations rather than state or global monopolies but the economy will recover rapidly.

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