Delegate Report Back from Scottish Retired Members Conference
STUC Woodlands Road, Glasgow; 13th April 2016.
I was fortunate to attend this Conference as the Dundee City UNISON Branch Delegate. It was encouraging that there were 75 delegates registered from 32 branches. (See Mac Senior for more Conference reports)
Session 1, Political Hustings
The first morning session took the form of a political “hustings”. The major parties were represented by Anas Sarwar (Scottish Labour), Tom Coleman (Scottish Lib Dem), Patrick Harvey (Scottish Greens) and Bill Kidd (Scottish National Party)
Thomas Haddow, who was to represent the Scottish Conservative Party, did not turn up or send an apology.
There were some excellent questions, answers and discussion on topics including the NHS, pensions, inequality, new tax powers for the Scottish Parliament, austerity; trade with countries which abuse human rights including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Ghana: centralisation of the Police, the new Trade Union Bill, fracking and green energy.
There was a great deal of consensus among the speakers on issues including fracking(AGAINST), development of green energy sources (FOR), the Trade Union Bill (AGAINST), and trade with dodgy regimes (TRY PERSUASION FIRST). It was a pity the Tory did not show as the debate might have been more heated if he had!
Session 2; Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Regional Secretary.
Mike outlined the current difficulties and threats faced by our union and it’s members. Cuts from the Westminster Government have been passed on to Local Authorities by the Scottish Government resulting in the loss of 40000 local government jobs to date, with 8000 more redundancies to come.
He did not believe the latter could be done without compulsory terminations. The dangers from the Trade Union Bill were also explained by Mike. The new balloting requirements virtually take away the right to strike. The abolition of DOCAS seriously threatens union funding and the withdrawal of facilities time stops workplace reps being effective on behalf of members. He ended by saying there is a glimmer of hope due to opposition in the Lords to the DOCAS measure. Many peers also fear that parts of the bill may contravene human right legislation.
Lunch Break : 12.30 -13.15. Excellent Lunch and a chance to meet old friends!
Session 3; Workshops
Delegates had a choice to attend two out of the three workshops which were, Pensions, Legal Services and Health and Social Care. I attended the first two of these.
Legal Services Workshop; Facilitator – Tim Weir, Principal Solicitor, Thompson’s Solicitors.
Tim provided an informative overview of the Will Making and Power of Attorney services Thompson’s provide and the concessionary rates for Unison members. The will is free and the power of attorney is circa £330.00. He emphasised the importance of completing these while you are “of sound mind”. The discussion/Q&A which followed was helpful in that both Tim and the audience outlined experiences which reinforced the wisdom of attending to such matters.
Pensions Workshop; Facilitator – Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser(Bargaining & Campaigns) Unison Scotland. I learned a great deal about the new pension arrangements from Dave’s presentation. The exclusions from the well publicised new £155.00 week rate were an eye opener. Women born in the early 1950s seem particularly hard done by and there was some discussion about the WASPI campaign being mounted by women to gain better transitional arrangements. Dave also gave details of government attempts to raid the LGPS scheme and the detrimental effect of the move from RPI to CPI in calculations.
Health and Social Care Workshop; Facilitator – Stephen Smellie (Depute Convener) Unison Scotland. I didn’t attend this workshop, but colleagues who did told me it was excellent.
In conclusion I found the Conference enjoyable, stimulating and educative. Thanks to the Branch for enabling my attendance.
Retired Members Section
Dundee City UNISON
Financial Jargon Checker
(I think this would be useful list to print and keep)
Accrual rate: If you have a final salary pension, this refers to the rate at which pension benefits build up in it each year.
Affinity card: A credit card which lets you support a charity or other organisation. The credit card provider donates a small portion of what you spend on your card, at no extra cost to you.
Age allowance: An additional personal tax allowance for people over 65.
Annuity: An annuity converts your pension fund into retirement income. Shop around for the best deal as, once purchased, you can’t change your annuity provider.
APR: The APR (Annual Percentage Rate of change) shows the overall cost of borrowing on a credit card or loan. Generally, the lower the APR, the better the deal for you. Use it to compare different credit and loan offers.
Arrangement fee: The fee that you pay a lender to set up a mortgage for you.
AVCs: An AVC (Additional Voluntary Contribution) is an extra contribution you can pay into an occupational pension.
Capital Gains Tax: If you sell or give away an asset that has increased in value, you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the profit. This typically applies to shares and other investments. The current profit threshold where CGT kicks in for most people is £10,100.
Cashback credit cards: A reward scheme where your card provider gives you cash every time you use your card.
Cashback websites: Cashback websites pay you if you click a link on a cashback website to a retailer or product provider and spend money. This is paid into your cashback site account and you can withdraw it when you reach a set threshold.
Compound interest: Any interest you earn or owe is added to the original amount that interest if calculated on. You are effectively earning interest on interest. This can help your savings grow quicker, but will accelerate your debts.
Cooling off period: The amount of time you have to change your mind and get your money back after buying something or signing a contract. Check the paperwork to find out how long you have.
Credit report: A record of your past borrowing and how you managed the repayments.
Credit score: Helps your lender decide whether to lend you money. The lender uses your credit record and the information on your application form to award you with a credit score.
Default: The failure to pay back a loan.
Deflation: The opposite the inflation, deflation is a decrease in the price of goods and services, and the value of wages. It usually happens during a recession.
Exit fee: A fee paid when you choose to close an account or investment before it is supposed to end.
Final salary scheme: A type of occupational pension scheme. The amount of pension you get is worked out on your salary at retirement or when you left the job, and how long you were a member of the scheme.
FSA: The FSA (Financial Services Authority) is the financial services regulator in the UK.
Flexible mortgage: A mortgage that gives you some options to overpay or underpay the monthly repayment.
Fund manager: Runs an investment scheme, such as a trust or pension, and decides what shares, gilts or bonds the scheme should invest in.
Income drawdown: A type of pension where you withdraw money directly from the fund while the pension fund remains invested. Also known as income withdrawal.
IFA: An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) will advise you on the best financial products for you after researching the whole market. You have the option to pay a fee for their service (as opposed to commission).
Index linked: An investment can be linked to an inflation index (CPI – Consumer Price Index, or RPI – Retail Price Index). If it is, it ensures that your return will stay in line with increases and decreases in that index.
Inheritance Tax: A tax paid on your estate (everything you own, minus your debts) after you die, if it’s valued over a certain amount.
Initial charge: A charge made on an investment product or insurance policy to cover the costs of selling it to you.
IVA: An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a way to avoid bankruptcy. It is a formal arrangement through the county court to pay an agreed amount off your debts.
Mis-selling: If a salesperson misrepresents what a product or service offers, or misleads you about what it can do, they are mis-selling it. Contact the FSA if you think you were mis-sold a financial product or service.
Money purchase: A type of pension where your money is invested in, for example, the stock market. The size of your retirement fund depends on how much you pay in and how well your investments do.
Mortgage indemnity guarantee: A type of mortgage insurance that you pay for but that benefits the lender. It protects them against loss if you borrow a high proportion of your property’s value and can’t repay the mortgage.
Net asset value: The value of the underlying assets in an investment trust.
Payment protection insurance: An insurance policy that helps you keep up loan repayments if you can’t pay them because of redundancy, accident or illness.
Permanent health insurance: Gives you a regular income if you can’t work because of illness or disability.
Personal pension: A pension you take out yourself if your employer doesn’t offer an occupational pension or if you’re self-employed.
Repayment mortgage: A mortgage where you pay off both the initial loan and the interest that accumulates each month. It is a clear and simple way to repay the amount you owe.
Retail Prices Index (RPI): Measure inflation in the UK. It is calculated each month by taking a sample of goods and services that a typical household might buy. This includes food, heating, housing, bus fares and petrol.
SAYE: An employee savings scheme that stands for Save As You Earn. You can save between £5 and £250 of your salary each month for a set period of time. At the end of that set period, a tax-free bonus is added to your savings. You can either take the money as cash or use it to buy discounted shares in the company.
Smart card: A card with a small electrical chip in it (most credit and debit cards have one). The information stored on the card is encrypted so only systems that know the code can unlock the information.
Transfer value: The figure you get if you transfer your pension from one company scheme to another, or to a personal pension. By law, this must be fair to you.
Unsecured loan: A loan that isn’t secured against your home or other asset you own. You agree to pay back the loan within a set period. The lender is taking a bigger risk than with a secured loan, so interest rates tend to be higher.
Waiver of premium: A feature on a personal pension plan or life insurance plan that guarantees your contributions will be paid for a period of time, usually by the insurer, if you are ill or lose your job. It costs a little extra but is worth it.
Consumer Price Index (CPI): is an index that measures the average price of a “basket” of consumer goods and services. CPI is indexed against a base year and the change in CPI represents a measure of inflation. Looked up this one for myself. So thought I’d stick it on the end of the list.
Still not sure I’d pass an exam on the above paragraph, but at least it gives an idea, for those like me who didn’t know what it was!
Apologies to Age Concern Scotland/Silver Line Scotland for any misquotes printed in this newsletter.
Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus. Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.