By Ian Quinn
The Government is to ramp up efforts to persuade GPs to switch to a controversial new pension scheme as accountants warn the changeover may be made compulsory.
GPs are to be targeted by a major DH mail-out encouraging those still on the 1995 pension to move over to 2008 scheme, following Lord Hutton’s report warning public-sector pension payouts were untenable.
The 2008 pension is based on 1.87% of uprated earnings per year, as opposed to 1.4% in the 1995 version, but has a less lucrative lump sum and a retirement age of 65 rather than 60.
Bob Senior, chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, said the 2008 pension was a far less attractive package than its predecessor, and ministers were likely to make the changeover compulsory as the only way to get GPs to switch.
‘I was expecting to see the 1995 scheme frozen and the Government make GPs switch to the new one even before the Hutton report,’ he said. ‘I have been advising my clients to expect this to happen as I can’t see the Government leaving GP pensions as they are.’
A senior BMA source said of the 2008 pension: ‘My advice to GPs would be not to touch it with a bargepole’. Pulse understands very few GPs on the older version have moved to the new one.
Mr Senior said the Government allow GPs on the old scheme to keep benefits accrued but base future pension earnings on the newer model, while expecting GPs to work longer.
An NHS Business Services Authority spokesperson said: ‘The DH will talk to trade unions including the BMA and will advise what changes are made to the scheme.’
Moves to ramp up the new pension’s take-up came as the Government moved to cap pensions for the highest earners to £65,000 – affecting a small number of GPs with more than £1.5m in their pension pots.
Credit: John Morgan GPs targeted for pensions switch