Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Pension Debate & Social Enterprises

The Department of Health in England has been quick to point that that the transfer of NHS pensions to a 'Health-care providing Social Enterprise' does not set a new precedent for a uniform transfer of NHS pensions.

Over 1,000 employees have moved from the NHS to Anglican Community Enterprise and importantly, their NHS pensions have moved too. Many NHS employees have in the past been very reluctant to make the switch due to the fear that they would lose their pensions if they took up employment with such Government backed social enterprise initiatives.

The Government however finds itself in an awkward position. Giving a blanket assurance that all pensions will be protected would certainly give re-newed impetus to its "Right to Request" policy but would be an expensive measure. The approach at present appears to advocate pension transfer if certain criteria are met. Whilst the Anglican Community Enterprise was successful there is no guarantee that future NHS spin-out social enterprises would enjoy a similar result.

Whilst such uncertainty remains, considerable opposition will continue to be voiced, and social enterprise involvement in health and social care provision will be curtailed. Many NHS employees have yet to buy into the social enterprise concept in its present form. The onus is now on the Government to allay those fears.

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