Most people think strike effective and those who oppose it over-estimate level of public sector pensions

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date: 28 November 2011

embargo: 00:01 hours Wednesday 30 November 2011

On average, people think that the average public sector pension is around £14,000, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by the TUC and published today (Wednesday). Asked what they think the average public sector pension should be people give an even higher figure.

On average, people think that public sector pensions pay out an average of £14,000 a year but ought to pay out more than £15,000. More than 30 per cent think that the average pension is greater than £15,000. Yet the average public sector pension payment (median) is £5,600.

A majority think that the threat of a strike has been effective in making the government put forward a new offer - 44 per cent agree that the government has put forward a 'new offer because of the threat of the strike' while only 14 per cent think they have done so 'because they listened to the concerns of public sector workers'. A further 20 per cent think both equally, giving 64 per cent who think the threat of the strike has contributed to persuading the government to make a new offer.

A majority of people who hold the more realistic view that the average public sector pension is between £5,000 and £9,999 a year back the strike (52%, compared to 39% of these who oppose the strike). Opposition to the strike is greater among those who believe that the average public sector pension is higher than it actually is: around two thirds of those who think that the average payment is more than £20,000 a year oppose the strike action.

On average, those who support the strike think the current average public sector pension is around £12,000 a year, while on average those who oppose the strike think it is approximately £16,000 a year.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Union members defending their pension today can take great comfort from these figures.

'A big majority think that our threat of strike action has already been effective in getting the government to shift its position.

'And while we know that not everyone supports us, many of those who oppose us have a very inaccurate view of what public sector pensions actually pay out. Given the onslaught of misleading propaganda about 'gold-plated pensions', it does not come as a surprise that some people have been taken in.'

Results in detail

On average, people think that the average public sector pension is £14,371, 31 per cent think that the average public sector pension is more than £15,000 per year.

Thinking about the public sector, what do you think the average public sector pension per year currently is?

Total

%

Male

%

Female

%

Less than £1,000

2

2

1

£1,000 to £4,999

6

5

7

£5,000 to £9,999

18

19

17

£10,000 to £14,999

18

19

17

£15,000 to £19,999

15

18

13

£20,000 to £29,999

11

12

11

£30,000 or more

5

5

5

Don't know

24

20

28

AVERAGE (those who gave a figure, n=2,145)

£14,371

£14,483

£14,251

On average, people think the average public sector pension ought to be £15,246

And what do you think the average public sector pension per year should be?

Total

%

Male

%

Female

%

Less than £1,000

1

2

1

£1,000 to £4,999

3

3

3

£5,000 to £9,999

11

12

10

£10,000 to £14,999

24

27

22

£15,000 to £19,999

21

21

20

£20,000 to £29,999

11

12

11

£30,000 or more

3

3

3

Don't know

26

20

31

AVERAGE (those who gave a figure, n=2,096)

£15,246

£15,068

£15,440

64 per cent believe that the threat of the strike has contributed to the government making a new offer.

The government wants to change public sector pensions. This will mean that public sector workers will pay more and work longer to get a full pension. Recently, the government has made a new offer to unions. Pension entitlement will build up at a faster rate than originally planned and those within ten years of retirement will still be able to claim a full pension at their existing pension age, although they will still face higher contributions.

Which of the following two statements do you agree with most?

Total

%

Male

%

Female

%

The government made this new offer because of the threat of the strike

44

45

44

The government made this new offer because they listened to the concerns of public sector workers

14

16

11

Both equally

20

21

20

Neither

9

8

10

Don't know

13

10

15

A majority of those who correctly think the average public sector pension is between £5,000 and £9,999 back the strike. Around two thirds of those who think current average pensions are £20,000 or more, much higher than they actually are, oppose the strike (66%, compared to 26% in this bracket who support the strike).

And do you think that public sector workers are right or wrong to take strike action over reform to public sector pensions?

Gender

GB Adults who think the average public sector pension currently is...

Total

%

Male

%

Female

%

£5,000 to £9,999

£10,000 to £19,999

%

£20,000 or more

%

The unions are RIGHT to take strike action over public sector pension reforms

40

41

40

52

37

26

The unions are WRONG to take strike action over public sector pension reforms

46

48

43

39

52

66

Don't know

14

11

17

10

11

8



Gender

View on strike action over public sector pension reforms

Total

%

Male

%

Female

%

The unions are RIGHT to take strike action

%

The unions are WRONG to take strike action

%

Thinking about the public sector, what do you think the average public sector pension per year currently is?

Less than £1,000

2

2

1

3

1

£1,000 to £4,999

6

5

7

9

4

£5,000 to £9,999

18

19

17

23

15

£10,000 to £14,999

18

19

17

18

20

£15,000 to £19,999

15

18

13

14

18

£20,000 to £29,999

11

12

11

7

16

£30,000 or more

5

5

5

3

8

Don't know

24

20

28

23

19

AVERAGE (those who gave a figure, n=2,145)

£14,371

£14,483

£14,251

£12,263

£16,274

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,763 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20-22 November 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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