Does the average civil servant sit on a pension pot worth £500,000?

“A civil servant on a median salary – the middle salary – of £23,000 will receive after a career of 40 years (which many will have) a pension pot worth £500,000.” Francis Maude, Radio 4, 15 June 2011

This claim has been analysed by Full Fact who are an independent fact-checking organisation – an outfit that is not linked to the PCS in any way at all and which certainly is no friend to the unions.

In their article they conclude:

While Francis Maude’s claim that average civil servants could be looking at pension pots of half a million pounds might at first seem to be at odds with the protestations made by Mark Serwotka that the average civil service pension is only £4,200 per year, both can be substantiated.

Just as the PCS figure for the average pension can be reached by taking the suggestion of the interim Hutton report – £5,023 – and removing the impact of high-earning “outliers”, Mr Maude’s total for a median pension pot can be arrived at by calculating the effects of salary inflation over a fairly exceptional term of service: 40 years.

According to Lord Hutton, this set of circumstances applies to less than 2 per cent of civil servants, while the Taxpayers’ Alliance figures from 2006 suggested that the majority of those civil servants currently sitting on pension pots of half a million pounds were in the very highest salary bands. Questions about how representative Mr Maude’s example is of the pensions accrued by most civil servants do therefore seem to have some legitimacy.

Mr Maude tries to suggest that the exception (£500,000 pension pot) is the norm. Unfortunately over the next months we must be prepared to counter many such wild claims concerning our pensions, pay and job security. It is vitally important that each false or exaggerated claim is countered with the truth. We are not a privileged elite sitting on gold plated pensions; we are just ordinary people struggling to get by, just like the great majority of people in the UK.

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