MyCSP – The Unmutual Mutual

Update 30th May 2012: MyCSP became a ‘mutual’ today.

Today the HMRC intranet carried a message about My Civil Service Pension (MyCSP), the people who administer pensions for civil servants, specifically about the restructuring which is planned to turn it in to a ‘mutual organisation’.

As is frequently the case with such messages it tells a very small part of the story. It does, however, provide a useful opportunity to remind members about the dangers of privatisation.

MyCSP was formed in 2010 and is currently staffed by civil servants. As we know, the government doesn’t like civil servants very much and would much rather we were done away with so that private companies can send tax payers’ money to off shore bank accounts instead. That is exactly what they are trying to do with MyCSP. Under the paper-thin disguise of a ‘mutual’ (part owned by the staff, part owned by the government and part owned by a private company) MyCSP is being set up to be sold off.

Four companies have been shortlisted to profit from your taxes: Xafinity, Capita, JLT and Wipro. At least one of those companies, Capita, uses tax havens and other tax avoidance strategies to minimise the amount of tax they pay in the UK, a peculiar company to shortlist at a time when we’re told that the deficit demands we collect all the tax we can. Perhaps the tax avoidance was one of the ways they managed to find the money to pay Chief Executive Paul Pindar £1.6million in 2009 (Daily Mail). This was the year before many Capita staff were offered a 1% pay rise on their £6.11 hourly wage.

And that’s where the problems really lie. In an interview with Civil Service World in July this year Phil Bartlett, head of MyCSP, said,

“our workloads were going up… We were under pressure from a budgetary point of view to reduce our operating costs, and there was no money for investment.

How can switching to mutual resolve that? The obvious answer is by cutting staff, cutting pay and cutting terms and conditions, the inevitable consequences of privatisation. PCS members in MyCSP feel so strongly about this that they took industrial action in July. Unfortunately the government refuses to listen to the very people that they profess to be forming a ‘mutual joint venture’ with.

There was a chilling paragraph in today’s intranet message.

“HMRC people may notice their staff wearing different security passes as a visible reminder of their new status, and are reminded about observing the Department’s confidentiality rules.”

Forced from the public to private sector against their will and wearing different security passes to their former colleagues. This is a fate the government boasts of wanting to inflict on up to a million public sector workers.

Action

Take a minute to tell your MP you oppose the ‘mutualisation’ of MyCSP with the PCS e-action.

Further Reading

Ethical Consumer: How ethical are the companies that will run our public services?

Guardian Public Leaders network: Civil service spins out delivery of pension provision

Defence Cuts Cost: PCS Members Strike In My Civil Service Pension

About: Dave Plummer

Public sector worker, PCS rep, Branch Organiser with PCS R&C Euston Tower Branch, and general branch communications person. Known to strum a guitar on occasion. Member of PCS Left Unity and the Green Party.

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