BBC adds career average scheme to pension proposals

The BBC has proposed adding a career average (Care) scheme called CAB 2011 to its pension proposals.

This option joins two previous proposals to members of its defined benefit (DB) scheme: the option to stay in the scheme with a 1% annual cap on the future growth of pensionable pay or to transfer into a defined contribution (DC) scheme.

Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, said in an email to staff: “If a current member opted for CAB 2011, this is how it would work. First, [they] would leave their existing defined benefit section in the BBC pension scheme. 

“As a result, they would become a ‘deferred’ member and pensionable pay they had accrued up to that point would rise broadly in line with inflation. [They] would then immediately join the new CAB 2011 arrangement in which they would build up benefits year by year for their remaining time at the BBC.

“The benefits would be based on average pay from the time they joined CAB 2011 to the time they left the BBC. There would be no cap on how far this average could grow if salary grew over the period either because of annual or other pay rises or because of promotion.”

According to Thompson, the BBC is still working through the full details of CAB 2011, but it is proposing that it have a pensionable age of 65, that pensions would accrue at the same rate as the current CAB scheme (1.67% of salary per year, in other words 1/60ths), and that pensions in payment should increase by the lower of consumer price inflation (CPI) and 2.5%. 

The new proposal was shared with the joint unions – NUJ, BECTU and Unite – on 13 September.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ, said: “The BBC’s continued insistence that staff pay much more for significantly worse benefits is unacceptable.

“We will be taking the union’s case for fair pensions to a series of members’ meetings across the UK. If the BBC fails to listen to the continued anger of staff at these unacceptable pensions changes we will be left with no choice but to strike to stop the pensions robbery.”

Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of BECTU, added: “We believe a further round of meetings with members is the next best course of action in the current dispute.

“While the BBC has heard and responded to some of our concerns, we are disappointed the BBC’s response fails to take account of the long-term implications of the worsening of pension terms for staff and their families.

“We believe the BBC should be prepared to justify its position fully by agreeing to revisit pension benefits in April 2011 should official figures confirm the total scheme deficit is less than £1.5bn. That said, the latest proposals from the BBC warrant further detailed examination with members.”

Peter Skyte, national official at Unite, said: “While the new proposals retain a defined benefit pension for current employees, protect members’ accrued pension entitlements and go some considerable way to continue the link between basic pay and pension increases, they fall short in some areas and require clarification in others.

“The BBC has a world-class workforce which deserves world -lass pensions to provide for surety and security in retirement. We feel it necessary to consult further with our members on the BBC’s latest proposals before determining a response and further action.”

An additional consultation period will run from 16 September until mid-November.

Read more articles on the BBC’s pension proposals