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Friday, April 17, 2009

The free ride of your life

Open Europe has today published a list of MEPs who have/are taking part in the controversial Additional Voluntary Pension Scheme, over and above their standard pensions.

Until now, this list has been a closely guarded secret, MEPs having voted in 2007 to prevent publication of which MEPs take advantage of the scheme.

However, the brilliant German investigative journalist Hans-Martin Tillack has provided Open Europe with a list (not exhaustive) of those MEPs which were signed up to the fund as of December 2007.

The list contains the names of 394 MEPs signed up to the scheme, with some reports suggesting that as many as 480 MEPs could have opted in. 79% of British MEPs were signed up to the scheme, including Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP MEPs, and 77% of Irish MEPs were signed up.

Under this lucrative (second!) pension scheme, the public contributes £2 for every £1 from the MEP. But wait...it turns out that MEPs' contributions are automatically deducted from their office expenses. They are supposed to reimburse this, but there are no actual checks to ensure that this is the case. This means the scheme is potentially entirely funded by the taxpayer.

Did we mention that MEPs make no contributions to their standard (first) pension scheme either?

However, credit must here go to MEPs such as Caroline Lucas , (and Nick Clegg in his day), for refusing to take part in the scheme "as she regards it as a misuse of EU taxpayers' money."

We couldn't have put it better ourselves.

See here for Bruno Waterfield's take.

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