FIVE members of Tynwald are still not contributing to their pensions, iomtoday can reveal.
It’s a figure that is likely to dismay many island families who are facing an unprecedented squeeze on their household income, with spiralling costs, pay freezes and job insecurity.
And the question many voters will be asking today is who are the five – and what justification have they for not stumping up?
Tynwald voted in March to introduce a 5 per cent contribution towards members’ pensions, to be phased in over three years.
Contributions were brought in from the following month, starting at 3 per cent of their salary, rising to 5 per cent by April 2014.
However, the move was not compulsory to existing MHKs and MLCs, only to new members or those voted back in at future elections.
The Clerk of Tynwald’s office confirmed: ‘As at the August payroll five members were not making a voluntary pension contribution.’
Angela Moffatt, vice president of the Isle of Man Trades Union Council, said: ‘Frankly, if I was offered the Tynwald members’ pension for 5 per cent, I’d be falling over myself to stump up as it’s the most generous scheme by far I’ve come across. So it’s pretty surprising that five people aren’t.
‘I think there’ll be a big public demand to know who the five are, and what their reasons are for not paying.
‘Given a huge number of people have no access to a work pension, or are being asked to pay more and/or get less and/or work longer – at a time when they are having incomes squeezed and face little or no security of employment – I would not like having to justify this one to the average voter if I was a politician.
‘The good thing is that most politicians have responded and are contributing – but the fact is – it’s the best deal on a pension I’m aware of – most working people I know would give their right arm to get a pension like this for 5 per cent.’
The Treasury and the Clerk of Tynwald’s office had initially denied our request to confirm how many Tynwald members were not contributing to the pensions, insisting it was inappropriate as this was confidential information and that we would have to ask each individual MHK and MLC in turn.
Of course, it is unlikely that those refusing to contribute would want to make that fact public.
The information on the number not paying towards their pension was only released following the intervention of Speaker Steve Rodan, chairman of the Tynwald emoluments committee.
In a letter to all Tynwald members, he warned his parliamentary colleagues of likely media publicity.
In his letter, which has been seen by iomtoday, he wrote: ‘I am writing to advise you that Adrian Darbyshire of Isle of Man Newspapers has been in contact with the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office enquiring about the voluntary contributions being made by members towards the Tynwald Members’ Pensions Scheme. This is not information which is appropriate for the Office to hold, being a matter between the individual member and Treasury.
‘It is clear that Treasury and the Chief Secretary’s Office were subsequently approached by the journalist for this information, with the upshot that unsolicited information was conveyed to Clerk of Tynwald’s Office from Treasury as to the total number of members making contributions, but not their identity. Being aware of this, the journalist this morning directly asked the Office how many members were NOT paying contributions. In these circumstances I decided that he should be told the figure, which is 5, and also that it was important to advise you of this, in advance of likely media publicity.’
During the Tynwald debate in March, there were angry exchanges between those who wanted to increase the contribution and those who were against it.
An attempt by Liberal Vannin leader Peter Karran to increase the amount members would pay to their contribution to 10 per cent was rejected.
A number of MHKs, including Treasury Minister Eddie Teare, have opted to pay the five per cent contribution straight away rather than the initial three per cent.
A department member getting an extra 30 per cent on top of their £37,822 basic salary would be taking home £2,458 less a year after paying a five per cent contribution to their pension or £1,475 a year if paying 3 per cent.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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