A quarter of public sector workers are considering abandoning their pension schemes in the face of rising contributions, a survey has found.
Unison and the Public and Commercial Services union asked more than 10,000 members whether they would consider opting out of their pension scheme if they had to contribute an extra 3% of their salary.
Almost one in four respondents said they “definitely” or “probably would” opt out. A further 22% were undecided.
Most social workers are members of the final salary Local Government Pension Scheme. They currently contribute between 5.5% and 7.5% of their salary, with employers covering about 14% of the overall bill.
But an independent commission led by Lord Hutton recommended that public sector employees should pay higher pension contributions in order to save taxpayers money in the short term.
Unison and the PCS also asked members about strategies they have adopted to cope with the rising cost of living.
The results showed a large majority of public sector employees are cutting back on household expenditure, including personal items (84%) and food shopping (71%).
A third of respondents said they had personal debts of £10,000 or more, and the same amount again said they had increased borrowing on credit cards, loans and overdrafts.
Just over half received a pay increase in 2010, but this was overshadowed by concerns about job cuts and the threat of redundancy. Around 86% of respondents said they were more concerned about this now compared to the same time last year.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Workers across the public sector are under siege from all sides, from job and service cuts to pension increases, pay freezes and rising inflation.
“This survey shows the coping strategies that members have been forced to take to make ends meet and they make grim reading.”
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of PCS, added: “With bankers’ bonuses and executive pay hitting the headlines, the picture our members have painted of their personal finances is a truly shocking one.”
An estimated 10,000 people are expected to join a rally against cuts to public spending in London on 26 March.
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