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Pensions, Privatisation and Public Services

25 January 2005 - 10:10am

The Government has announced plans to privatise the administration of the NHS pensions scheme...

On 3 November 2005, an announcement was made that four NHS agencies - the NHS Pensions Agency, the NHS Logistics Authority, the Dental Practice Board and the Prescription Pricing Authority - were to be dissolved and their services outsourced. In their place, a new Authority, to be called the Business Services Authority (BSA), is to be set up. This Authority will not provide any services; rather, its role is to procure and manage contracts with the private sector.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the largest trade union within both the Civil Service and the Department of Health, has expressed its concern that priorities will shift from providing a quality service for members of the NHS pensions scheme to providing profits for shareholders. The PCS is under no doubt that the driver behind these plans is the cutting of costs.

The PCS is opposing these new proposals on the grounds that there has been no justification for the change and no identification of benefits for members of the NHS Pensions Scheme or of savings to the public purse. The PCS is campaigning for a stop to the privatisation of public services: more on the campaign can be found at www.pcs.org.uk.

Why is the work of the Pensions Agency so important?

The Pensions Agency delivers pensions management, development and administration services for the NHS Pensions Scheme for:

  • 1.2 million NHS staff
  • 500,000 retired NHS staff
  • 350,000 members with preserved rights
  • 11,000+ participating employers

Why campaign against privatisation?

Privatisation of public service contracts has not worked. In areas such as the railways and government IT it has led to poor service and cost overruns. There is little recourse if things go wrong.

The privatisation proposal for the Pensions Agency is a monopoly proposal. The PCS wants to explore alternatives and are asking for management's formal commitment to provide information and time to explore alternatives to this privatisation.

The PCS is also concerned that redundancies will affect standards of service and hit long-term dedicated staff.

Privatisation also invariably means reductions in terms and conditions for staff.

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