'Dream' pensions of up to £80,000 slammed as Sheffield Council faces £44m spending black hole

Cash-strapped Sheffield City Council is paying 15 pensioners more than £820,000-a year - as it faces a £44m spending black hole.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:12 pm

One retiree receives more than £80,000, another is on more than £70,000, two get over £60,000 and 11 receive more than £50,000 annually, it has been revealed.

In total, Sheffield City Council pays £35m for pensions every year - with the average worker retiring at 58.

One individual has been receiving a pension for 46 years.

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John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance.

‘Gold plated’ council pensions have guaranteed incomes that go up with inflation - which could hit five per cent this year.

The information was supplied in response to a Freedom of Information request.

It comes as the authority battles a £44m overspend due to the pandemic, lost income and pressures on social care.

To bridge the gap, council tax has gone up by 4.99 per cent – the maximum rise permitted by the Government - and some services will be cut.

Sheffield Town Hall In total, Sheffield City Council pays £35m for pensions every year - with the average worker retiring at 58.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “Workers in the private sector are paying for their public sector counterparts to enjoy a retirement they can only dream of.

“It’s unacceptable that ordinary families and pensioners, who have seen year-on-year hikes to their council tax bills, have so much of their money spent on council pensions.

“Residents already pay a fortune for these pensions, so local authorities must cut out waste and scrap tax rises for households feeling the financial squeeze.”

Sheffield City Council spending has been in the spotlight since the overspend was revealed in October. Social care is draining the budget. Out of the £44m overspend, £30.9m – 71 per cent – is in adult and children’s social care.

The new figures show 14,251 people receive an SCC pension. The average amount is £5,512-a-year. On average the authority pays in 17.5 per cent of salary, compared to five per cent from employers in the private sector. The £35m cost of pensions is about 2.5 per cent of total £1.4bn spend.

In September, the authority was advertising seven high flying jobs paying up to £154,000-a-year and boasting a string of benefits including ‘a generous pension scheme’, the opportunity to buy a tax-free bike, career breaks, flexible working and gym, parking, shopping, yoga, rail and private health insurance discounts.

Executive director of resources, Eugene Walker said: “Sheffield remains the third largest metropolitan council in the country, yet our annual spending on salaries and pensions remains responsible and the pension fund is no longer in deficit.

“As a council we are bound by the terms of the Local Government Pension Scheme which is controlled by central government and all pensions are administered by the South Yorkshire Pension Authority. As such, all pensions are paid from the pension fund, not council tax, with our highest earners paying in 11 per cent of their salary each month and pension payments reflecting length of service.

“Public sector pay overall remains significantly lower than the private sector, yet we ask a considerable amount of our staff to meet the demands of the public.

“In order to attract and retain highly qualified and skilled staff the public sector must offer appropriate benefits and provide packages that reflect the service they provide.”