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The Pensions Board and state provision

by
08 February 2013

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From the Bishop of Dudley
Sir, - As the outgoing vice-chair of the Pensions Board and incoming chair of the Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee of the Archbishops' Council, may I reassure your readers on the concerns raised by Canon Earis ( Letters, 1 February)?

The decision of the General Synod to opt clergy back into the second state pension (S2P) in 2010 was perfectly sound, and was taken in full knowledge of the long-term uncertainties surrounding the future of state pensions. Opting in to S2P was an essential element of the changes that enabled the defined-benefit scheme to be kept open at a moment when the deficit was £262 million, and most other organisations were closing their schemes.

It enabled the Church to preserve as generous as possible a scheme for the clergy, which also remained affordable to those in the pews who ultimately pay the contributions.

The present Government has been thinking aloud about the state pension since 2010, and making periodic statements to that effect. A draft Bill, technical note, and impact assessment have recently been published, and a technical analysis of the proposals will be brought to the Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee for further discussion.

Further changes to the proposed legislation are highly likely during its progress, and the new pension arrangements are not due to begin before 2017 at the earliest.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been unwise to have bet the Pension Scheme family silver in 2010 on future government policy changes that even now remain unclear.

DAVID WALKER
Church of England Pensions Board
29 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3PS

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