Letter to Ariel

On Friday I wrote another letter to Ariel, trying to make the point that the biggest priority is to push the BBC to pay off the deficit, rather than come up with another plan to try and cajole us all out of the final salary pension scheme. Here’s the text

“The mood music surrounding the new pension scheme proposals is certainly more conciliatory than in the past. But it is disappointing to hear Mark Thompson repeat that we “must act now” to reduce the deficit. As he well knows there is no legal requirement to act to reduce the deficit until well into next year, once the full valuation is complete. We are being rushed into decisions on the basis of a partial valuation completed at the bottom of the market, no doubt because this creates the maximum leverage for “draconian” action.

Second, the focus on a “3rd option” is also disappointing. The present proposal to limit pensionable salary rises to 1% a year is quite simply against the rules of the pension scheme. The 43rd deed of the pension scheme defines pensionable salary as basic salary. I don’t want a 3rd option, I want the BBC to make a genuine attempt to plug the pension scheme deficit.

And third, the BBC seems determined to rule out the one option that could solve the defict problem – namely diverting the profits from Worldwide into the pension scheme. No explanation is being given for why this is apparently “unworkable”. Perhaps the opposite is the case: it IS workable, and therefore has to be ruled out because implementing it would stop the BBC pursuing its real agenda, which is to end the final salary pension scheme, come what may.

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