With Richard Hooper’s report into the future of Royal Mail due to land on Lord Mandelson’s desk any day now, questions abound as to the future of this Behemoth. The biggest concern seems to be that the report will suggest that taxpayers should take on the £7 billion pension liabilities, in order to allow the partial privatization of Royal Mail.
Given that public sector pension liabilities are already in the region of £1 trillion, £7 billion is small change; but this is the kind of small change I would rather not be liable for. Although of late, amounts seem to have taken Zimbabwean inflationary dimensions, there are no two ways about it; this is all a lot of money. Whether this £7 billion is transferred or not, in truth, taxpayers will be paying for it in the end on way or the other.
There is no easy solution for dealing pension liabilities. Clearly government is failing in a profound way. It would be wrong to renege on the promises it has made to current workers, yet it is wrong to continue to pass on the cost to taxpayers at large. What is important now is that we stop the rot. Taxpayers should be assured that this will end.
With Labour still in the pay of the unions, nothing much can be expected to come from them. I can't see the Liberal Democrats taking this on; most Lib Dem MPs would split in half just thinking about it. The Conservatives offer perhaps the only hope. They have promised to conduct a full review of public sector pensions and David Cameron has made some positive noises. We will see.
The current policy of sticking head firmly in sand has not proven successful. It is increasingly causing suffocation. Forget caring about the state of the planet for future generations, the way things are going they will be too busy working to see much of it.