Letters, Thursday, January 5th, 2012

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Funding of public sector pensions

ON December 23 the Letters Page featured a contribution from R. Scott who defended the current funding of public sector retirement pensions, with particular reference to that of teachers.

No matter what gloss he or she may use, it doesn’t alter the fact that except for a tiny segment the retirement pensions of teachers, civic servants, council workers, NHS nurses and all other public sector employees are funded from general taxation.

Earlier this year The Office for Budget Responsibility published data showing that at the end of March 2010 the total accrued liabilities of public sector pension schemes had risen to £1.13trillion – £322billion higher than the previous year. The accrued liabilities of teachers’ pension schemes were shown to be £224billion.

It beggars belief that R. Scott can argue that an ever increasing shortfall between employees’ contributions and the cost of paying pensions to ever increasing numbers of retired public sector personnel is not a problem.

No matter what the public sector trade unions would have us believe, there is a legitimate and growing unease that taxpayers outside the public sector are heavily subsiding generous public sector indexed-linked retirement pensions.

It is easy for public sector workers to argue that they are not responsible for the economic problems faced by this country, therefore no Government has the right to restrict their access to ever increasing sums of taxpayers’ money to subsidise their pension. They need to be reminded that 99 per cent of taxpayers are of very modest means and they are most certainly not responsible for the fragile stage of the economy.

Most people understand that the power to tax and spend is a necessary function of any political democracy, but it can also be a ready tool of exploitation and distributive injustice.

It would appear to me that here in the UK the method of funding public sector pensions is that of exploiting those on the outside who provide the wherewithal, knowing full well they don’t have the political clout to fight the distributive injustice of it all.

Ron Metcalfe, Warwick Drive, East Herrington

Head of state

REMEMBER the Christmas edition of “Till Death Us Do Part” when Alf Garnett stood to attention and saluted the Queen’s Speech? Whether he was full of patriotism or full of beer, it was hard to tell. It must be reassuring to monarchists like Alf that Betty Windsor condescends to address her subjects once a year.

For many people 2012 is going to be an annus mirabilis, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year. But I am an old Jacobite rebel. My ancestor, Captain Abernethy, died at Culloden fighting for King Charles III (that’s Bonnie Prince Charlie to you). I often listen to Kenneth McKellar singing “The Skye Boat Song” while I raise a glass of Glenfiddich and drink to the King over the water – the senior descendant of the Stuarts.

If Echo readers think this is eccentric, what is more bizarre than a country in the 21st century having a monarchy rather an elected head of state?

Henry Whipple, Coach Road Estate, Washington

Wonderful centre

I WOULD like to thank the South Hylton Tansy Committee and volunteers for all their hard work and dedication to enable the community to enjoy various parties held within the centre.

The most amazing pantomime took place, and there was Christmas lunch and all the usual activities to keep everyone busy.

My daughter enjoyed the pantomime so much, she was nearly jumping off my knee with excitement and she is only six months old, but it was good it kept her entertained and mesmerised for over two hours.

I only hope the centre is able to continue the events for many years to come, so my daughter can attend more events and be a proud and happy member of this dedicated community.

Kindest regards.

Melisa Krzalic, Prescot Road, Pennywell

Thinking of others

IT was Christmas morning, I needed a couple of slices of toast to remove my early hunger. Only the two crusts left and five green mould rings forced me to bin them both. I’m not crying poverty or loneliness, because this was only my bad shopping timing and anyway I was to spend most of the rest of Christmas Day with my family in their home. Boxing Day I was catered for too. To watch my grandchildren enjoy their wondrous days is a blessing beyond compare.

But I’m lucky. What about the 200,000 unfortunate ones who spend Christmastime poor, cold and lonely? The mouldy crusts made me think of all these poor, mostly elderly, struggling people and, even worse, of ones who are homeless and alone.

I hope and pray 2012 will be a year of reaching out to help others and every night counting our blessings instead of sheep.

Jimmy Chambers, Durham Avenue, Donwell