Got a problem with your local government pension? Live between Old Hartley, Greenside or Berwick, then don't bother making contact with your former employer, they are no longer interested in speaking with you.
The massive changes to pensions in local government from various coalition and conservative ministers, who have forced employers to consider changing their well oiled pension investment programmes to bring in pooling arrangements, allowing government to access your funds to sponsor infrastructure improvements has begun with Northumberland Conservatives moving your scheme out of County all together.
As a first step towards pooling, Northumberland County Council have agreed to have their scheme managed by South Tyneside Council prior to an amalgamation with the Tyne And Wear pension fund.
This step includes removing the pension staff from Northumberland and siting them in South Tyneside. Labour Councillors believe all future contact will be through an automated telephone system and if you need to have face to face contact with a human being you must travel to, yes South Shields.
On 1st November 2017 Northumberland Labour Group put forward a motion to Council to keep pension team members based in the County to help fund members when they need contact most.
Councillor Julie Foster spoke about the colossal size of Northumberland and the difficulties experienced by the elderly with public transport simply getting to their local market town. She said: "Members of the administration haven't thought about anything but making savings through these changes. When people make contact with their fund they are usually at their lowest ebb, having to take in death certificates etc., after the loss of a partner or sibling. Pensioners living in a huge County like ours need help from their Council and you have simply proposed a knee jerk reaction to what you see as possibly an isolated incident."
Councillor Grant Davey told our reporter: "its disappointing that those with the power to help people dismiss the needs of those who elect them into office. Many of those in the administration who are members of the pension fund are simply thinking of the here and now. I'm sure as they age they will need to make reference to the fund and they themselves may suffer through the difficulty travelling to South Shields from say Acomb or Alnwick this decision will bring to their door."