I’m a GPST2, and I’m 28 years old. The idea of drawing pensions conjures up visions of a little old lady walking slowly with a Zimmer to the front of the post office queue and keeping the quietly frustrated waiting whilst she counts it out to the last penny, tucks it into her purse and hobbles off at a snail’s pace. A pension certainly doesn’t apply to me – except being another drain on my payslip along with my student loan, tax (don’t even get me started) and the hospital parking permit I haven’t yet got round to cancelling. After all, we’ll be earning a reasonable wage, we’re not going to be skint, and we’ll be OK… Right?
The news of the NHS pension reform didn’t even bother me too much, at least not enough to look into quite what this meant, until someone suggested this meant we would pay more for less. In short, a bigger slice will leave my paycheque every month with less of a payback. Well this certainly did make me sit up straight and take notice. Suddenly pension seem much more relevant and all sense of fairness and entitlement came into play.
The new reforms (if they go ahead) change our pension contributions quite dramatically, from 7.5% to 9.9% (assuming an pre tax income of between £69,932- £110,273). This doesn’t sound too much but this will increase our gross pension contributions from £531.25 a month to £701.25, assuming a pre tax salary of £85,000. This is an extra £2000 over the course of a year, and substantially more over a working lifetime.
And in return for these extra contributions? Well one thing’s for sure, the extra money isn’t going to the pension scheme – its headed straight to the treasury. What we will get back is to work until we’re 68, instead of 65. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job… but working until I’m close to being that little old lady hunched over my Zimmer doesn’t really appeal.
The overwhelming response to Pulse’s Say no to 30% campaign is hardly surprising given the injustice of it and I for one haven’t wasted any time in signing my name to this. Although drawing my pension still feels (and is) years off, at least the potential (probable) reforms have made many of us registrars and recently qualified GPs sit up, take note and consider the alternatives to the NHS pension scheme. And that, surely can only be a good thing. Every cloud…
Julie Fry is a GPST2 in Cheltenham.