This is the text of a circular received from UNISON HQ this afternoon;
Since 30 November the Local Government Association (LGA - the local authority employers' organisation) has moved quickly to establish some consensus over the direction of travel within the LGPS and establish some joint principles and a timetable for negotiation, starting in January.
The government and the LGA have accepted that the LGPS is different from the other public sector pension schemes because it is a funded scheme and has assets of around £140 billion at current prices.
There are some key points of agreement between the LGPS unions and the LGA:
No change until 2014 - avoiding any change before the 2013 valuation
Prevention of opt outs and maximising of membership to keep the scheme sustainable
Independent and robust equality proofing at every stage
Adequate time for unions and employers to consult at key stages of the process
There have been NO negotiations on the detail of future contributions or the design of the new scheme, though they will start in earnest in January, with a view to Regulations being laid in time for the 2013 valuation.
We have had to have Chatham House negotiations between ourselves and the LGA, while trying to get the Government on board, although Chairs of relevant UNISON Committees have been consulted over developments.
We will not know for sure that we can proceed until Eric Pickles as SOS gives the all-clear, which we may not be until Tuesday. We are optimistic that he will say yes and also that CLG will agree to suspend the statutory consultation underway on contribution increases.
As soon as we have agreement and a public announcement is made, the principles and timetable will be sent to you.
There will be a briefing for SGEs covered by the LGPS on 10 January, alongside the Pension Summit, when SGE members within the LGPS will be able to respond to the principles and timetable and agree the next steps.
Our responsibility as UNISON members is to seek the views of as many members as possible and communicate these to our SGE members so that they can take an informed decision on our behalf. Further information will be circulated about this in the near future.