The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has launched a consultation into councillor access to the local government pension scheme.
In December, parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government Brandon Lewis made a written ministerial statement promising to seek views whether it was appropriate for councillors to receive "taxpayer-funded pensions" (PP Online, 19 December 2012).
Lewis argued excluding councillors from the scheme with effect from 1 April 2014, to coincide with the introduction of LGPS 2014 career average scheme, could save local authorities £7m a year.
The DCLG consultation paper said there has been "broad-based public backing" for the government's proposals to limit access to publicly-funded schemes for councillors and some other public officials.
It said: "Ministers stated that councillors are not full-time politicians or salaried town hall staff.
"The public seem generally surprised that councillors are receiving taxpayer-funded pensions at all."
The paper continued: "The government has reflected further on the need to take a consistent approach to councillors and other elected local office holders, notably elected mayors and members of the London Assembly.
"This consultation therefore proposes an option under which there would be no access to the taxpayer-funded local government pension scheme for these groups either."
Three proposals have been included in the consultation: the preferred government option of no access to LGPS 2014 through being "directly elected to local office"; two-tier membership, which would see "front bench" councillors retain rights to an LGPS pension; and a choice to continue under the current terms, where all councillors and elected local office holders can join the scheme.
As the government "does not consider that councillors are employed by local authorities or that they are workers or part-time workers", the proposals would not be affected by the legislative need to auto-enrol eligible jobholders in all public and private originations before 2017, it added.
The consultation will run until 5 July. For more information, visit the DCLG website.
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