Your union, helping you with your NHS pension

UNISON is asking for the government to provide a decent pay rise to all NHS staff. We’re pushing for a £2000 pay increase for all employees, regardless of their role. But there’s another aspect to pay that easy to overlook – pensions.

Although you pay a percentage of your earnings into the scheme and this can feel like a lot, your employer also contributes – and this contribution is likely to be a lot higher than what you may think!

If you opt out of the pension, so does your employer. As well as leaving you with less of a safety net when you retire, opting out means that you miss out on the 20.68% of your salary that the employer is ultimately due to pay in to your pension.

But UNISON know pensions can seem complicated and that many members either don’t understand what is happening to their money or opt out of the scheme altogether. It’s easy to be put off and think ‘that’s something I don’t need to worry about yet’.

That’s one of the reasons why UNISON health branches across Hampshire asked UNISON National Pension’s Officer Alan Fox to present a webinar on the NHS Pension Scheme. Members from Hampshire Health, Portsmouth Health and Southampton Hospitals met online to discuss their pensions in easily understood terms.

For Alan, it’s important to be a member of the NHS Pension Scheme:

‘Quite simply do you fancy living of the state pension (currently £179.60 a week)? The NHS Pension Scheme offers good quality pension benefits and an employer contribution rate of just over 20%. It makes no sense not to take advantage of this!’

With government figures showing that over 2 million pensioners live in poverty, Portsmouth Health branch secretary Jenny Ford agrees:

‘I think all members should have a pension and join as soon as possible to get the best benefits possible. With all the turbulence that occurs within the economy, knowing you have financial support when you retire gives you peace of mind.’

It’s not only older members who benefit from knowing more about the scheme, as Hampshire health branch secretary Jackie Dolphin notes:

‘All members need a thorough understanding of the NHS Pension Scheme. In recent years so many members were persuaded to leave the NHS Scheme and join a private pension scheme, some of which never gave what was promised and some members ended up with virtually nothing. It’s important to find out what you can and make informed choices.’

Alan seconds this:

‘Your pension is a very important benefit which you pay a decent proportion of your wage into. Don’t you want to know when you can retire, what income you are likely to receive, what happens to your pension if you die? It’s not all as complicated as you may think!’

Would you like to know more about your pension? As a UNISON member, you can access support from Lighthouse Financial Advice. Lighthouse provide a complimentary, no obligation appointment with a professional financial advisor.