Belfast Telegraph

Ratepayers face a £220m bill over pension shortfall

By Adrian Rutherford

Ratepayers face having to fund a near £220m deficit in the pension scheme for Northern Ireland council workers, it has been warned.



The vast black hole in local authorities’ reserves is revealed in research published by the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Belfast City Council’s shortfall of almost £74m is the biggest in Northern Ireland, equivalent to £274 for every person in the city.

The second largest deficit, over £15m, relates to Derry City Council.

Across the UK, the pension deficit totals a massive £54bn.

Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the issue needed to be addressed urgently.

“The deficit in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) remains a ticking time-bomb that’s being left for future generations of taxpayers to deal with,” he said.

“With an ageing population and a crisis in the public finances, generous final salary schemes like the LGPS are inflexible and too expensive, and need urgent reform.

“Councils should not take false comfort in the improvement in the stock market.

“Their pension liabilities continue to far outweigh their assets and the situation remains worse than two years ago.”

Each of our 26 local councils has deficits running into millions of pounds.

Belfast City Council has liabilities of £380,552,000 compared to assets of £306,877,628 — a shortfall of £73,674,372.

Derry City Council’s liabilities total £74,759,000 compared to assets of £59,454,982, meaning it has the second highest deficit.

The next highest are Lisburn City Council (£9.4m), Coleraine Borough Council (£8.5m) and Newry and Mourne District Council (£8.4m).

Moyle District Council had the lowest pensions shortfall, but it still amounted to almost £2.2m.

Across the UK, Birmingham City Council had a deficit of £1.3bn, the highest of all authorities.

factfile

Five highest pension deficits:

Belfast — £73,674,372

Derry City — £15,304,018

Lisburn — £9,378,238

Coleraine — £8,509,052

Newry and Mourne — £8,409,423

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