Council pension pot faces £270m deficit

The Council House, Doncaster.  (Picture: CHRIS BULL D3825CB)
The Council House, Doncaster. (Picture: CHRIS BULL D3825CB)

DONCASTER Council has a pensions deficit of £270 million - the equivalent of more than £900 for every person in the borough.

Figures released by the TaxPayers’ Alliance reveal that the authority’s scheme has assets of £651 million but its liabilities are £921 million.

With a population of the borough said to be 290,593, the £270 million black hole equates to £929 for every person.

The alliance has raised concerns that taxpayers will be left to foot the bill.

But pensions official say plans are in place to remove the deficit.

Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The deficit in the Local Government Pension Scheme remains a ticking time bomb that’s being left for future generations of taxpayers to deal with.

“With an ageing population and a crisis in the public finances, generous final salary schemes like the LGPS are inflexible and too expensive, and need urgent reform.

“Councils should not take false comfort in the improvement in the stock market.

“Their pension liabilities continue to far outweigh their assets and the situation remains worse than two-years-ago.”

But residents in Doncaster said they would not be happy about having to bail the fund out.

Paul Cope, aged 51, of Intake, said: “I would not be happy if the taxpayer was expected to pay for their pensions.

“I’m struggling myself on a low income. Why should I pay for someone else?”

Susan Berry, of Intake, said: “I would have a lot of concerns about any move to get taxpayers to pay for the deficit.”

Gary Chapman, head of administration at South Yorkshire Pensions Authority, said the scheme has 4.6 million members nationally and in South Yorkshire had assets of £4 billion.

He added a plan was in place to ensure the 21 per cent funding gap the latest valuation had uncovered was plugged within in the next 25 years.

Mr Chapman said: “The funding deficit is calculated based on assets and liabilities at a point in time on the assumption that all benefits were brought into payment.

“But it is meaningless because it assumes all members would end up leaving the scheme on the same day which of course is not going to happen.”

Jim Board, secretary of Doncaster Council’s branch of Unison, added: “I’m confident it is not going to have to be bankrolled by the taxpayer.

“When people retire, others join the scheme and start to contribute.”