TAXPAYERS in Bolton are paying an extra £1 million — equivalent to two-thirds of the council tax rise — to cover the local government pension black hole, according to a local councillor.
Cllr Martyn Cox, a former pensions adviser, has criticised Bolton Council for claiming a council tax rise was necessary to protect services — when the majority of the increase, he claims, is equal to money ploughed into the local government pension scheme to keep it afloat.
The £900,000 is over and above employer contributions the council makes.
Last year, Bolton Council paid an additional “one-off” contribution of £800,000 It is the only authority in the Greater Manchester to raise council tax, despite opposition leaders arguing it should take up the government’s offer of £1 million to freeze it and use part of the £7 million of one-off funds available to the authority to make up the rest.
Cllr Cox said: “I want tax payers to know how much council tax goes on services and how much goes on funding a pension scheme which would be impossible to sustain in a private setting.
“Many people no longer have a final pension salary after companies realised they could no longer sustain them, but they are still having to fund the public sector pension scheme.
“The government and public sector pension scheme needs reforming, it is unfair on the taxpayer.”
Unions stressed council employees already paid higher contributions to retain their final salary pension.
Martin Challender, Unison Branch Communications Officer, said: “As Cllr Cox is well aware, the local government pension scheme has already undergone significant reform with council workers now paying increased contributions for a much longer period in order to receive a pension at a later date.
“As a trade union we want the best occupational pensions for all workers.
“Cllr Cox appears to want the worst pensions for all workers.”
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The council is a member of Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
“As with all work-based pension schemes, in addition to the contributions that employees make, the employer is also required to make a contribution and this is set by the pension fund actuary.”