Earlier this year I blogged that judges’ generous pension entitlements would end up squarely in the line of fire following fiscal meltdown. And lo, it has come to pass, as the two main parties try to out-macho each other in respect of how severely they can punish public servants who were in no way responsible for the crash. George Osborne, the next chancellor of the exchequer if you believe the opinion polls, proposed a £50,000 a year cap on taxpayer-funded public sector pensions at this week’s Tory party conference. Judges are probably the occupational group that would suffer most. To recap, judges pay just 1.8-2.4% of their salaries to accrue a final salary pension at the rate of 1/40th for each year of service, up to 20 years. This is quite staggeringly generous. Let’s say you’re a judge earning £170,000 a year – halfway up the ladder. For a modest outlay of about £34,000 before tax at current prices, you can retire after 10 years’ service on an annual pension of £85,000 for life. If you live for another 20 years, that’s a cool £1.7m from the taxpayer. Only the governor of the Bank of England (1/30ths) fares better in the public sector. Even better, this is a final salary scheme. Move up and you stand to get far more. A £50,000 cap would soon derail this particular gravy train. Pensions already earned, or already in payment, would appear to be sacrosanct. However, it seems a future Tory government would change existing public sector pension schemes to stop further pension accrual above £50,000 while scheme members are still in employment. At what cost? The Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) points out that it is ‘important to assess the value of the judicial pension as a substantial part of the reward package’. Quite so, because judges’ salaries – while hefty – don’t come close to what the best of private practice has to offer. Is the prospect of becoming a judge about to become a whole lot less attractive? Or will judges be treated as a special case, as they were when Lord Falconer removed the requirement that tax relief on personal pension savings be limited to the lifetime limit?
Wojciech Szczesny 1 Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini is not concerned by Wojciech Szczesny’s desire to return to Arsenal.The Polish international is currently on loan at the Italian club but recently expressed his wish to return to the Gunners next season and compete with Petr Cech for the No 1 Jersey.Roma want to sign Szczesny on a permanent deal but Sabatini insists they have a plan in place if the 25-year-old returns to England.“We are working on it and would like to keep Szczesny, but knowing Arsenal it will be difficult to achieve that,” said Sabatini.“In any case, Roma are already covered in that role for next season. Who did we get? I will never tell you that!”