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The true potential value of ‘gold-plated’ public sector pensions has been laid bare by startling new calculations. 26,000 a year, the latest number-crunching shows. 600 a month – presuming an investment growth rate of 5 per cent – for forty years. 300,000 – over six times that of the equivalent state worker. Growth on their pension investments would deliver a pot worth three times their contributions, but crucially the risk on delivering this falls entirely on the saver. In contrast, a public sector pension carries no investment risk for the employee, thanks to its defined payout, and could be worth 20 times what a worker paid in, a pensions expert has claimed. The situation has been deemed ‘unaffordable’ by Chancellor George Osborne and proposed cut backs, with state workers forced to work longer and contribute more, have led to mass strike action today.

Alan Carey, of pension consultants Alexander Forbes, says his analysis shows the ‘incredible benefits’ afforded to the public sector. He says teachers, nurses, firefighters and other state workers striking over proposed pension reforms must realise just how much their retirement is costing the taxpayer. Carey says: ‘If they realised the sorts of numbers involved, perhaps they wouldn’t be striking. It’s clear public pensions are now unaffordable and the Government has no choice but to look at cutting costs. Public sector staff still get inflation linked payouts, although the measure used has been controversially switched from the Retail Prices Index to the slower-rising Consumer Prices Index. 900,000, according to pension provider Hargreaves Lansdown, due to the equivalent inflation-linked annuity rate being 2. 100,000 for healthy pensioners, they are even lower for those who want their payouts to rise with inflation each year, says Hargreaves’ Danny Cox.

Carey points out that several assumptions underpin his analysis. However, he insists they are fair and fairly representative of wider public sector. The numbers in the example will vary for different schemes. The Government has made concessions to unions over the proposed reforms. Those within ten years of retirement age on 1 April 2012 will be protected from all changes. Public sector workers are being asked to contribute 3.