UK - There needs to be a proper debate between government and taxpayers about the long term affordability of public pensions, independent consultant John Ralfe says.
Speaking to Global Pensions, Ralfe said: "Public sector schemes are no different to private sector schemes - a gap has grown up between the two, but the government won't recognise it. The government should engage in a proper dialogue."
He added his own research had shown the new-look LGPS, introduced in April last year, was no cheaper than the previous arrangements, despite variable contribution rates - and had actually increased the cost to taxpayers.
Ralfe said his analysis of local government schemes showed widespread misrepresentation of the true costs, with stated costs of 14% being significantly lower than the 21% he had found.
He noted: "If you look at the accounts, the official costs of local government pensions are lower [than private counterparts]. It's like there is some magic formula - they're fudging the numbers, and we need greater transparency."
At the heart of the issue, Ralfe said the disparity between public and corporate scheme accounting practices was partially to blame.
He said: "It's because local government schemes are not subject to UK GAAP [generally accepted accounting principles], they're supposed to use a modified GAAP - not FRS17.
"At the very least, we need more transparency in the reports of public sector funds - including teachers', the NHS and civil service - so taxpayers are in a position to see the real costs."
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