Like me, you may have seen on BBC London News last night that Boris Johnson is denying that the Greater London Authority (GLA) agreed to repay the now-defunct Visit London’s £2.1m staff pension scheme deficit. I have had a look into this and it appears that Boris Johnson and London Conservatives have deliberately bankrupted Visit London. Visit London was the tourism promotion organisation for London until 31st March 2011. As the greatest city in the world tourism is a major part of the London economy. This has now been transferred to a new organisation London and Partners.
It appears that Boris has again been spending too much time listening to his City of London chums. There is a sad record of private sector organisations where a few rich individuals walked away very comfortably after bankrupting their employees’ pension schemes. London Labour Assembly member Len Duvall who is Chair of the Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee has written a letter asking a number of pertinent questions. It appears that with Visit London and its pension scheme in deficit Boris Johnson has allowed Visit London to go into administration.
Visit London was a participatory partner to a special pension scheme run by the British Tourist Board, which it is understood Boris initially said the GLA would continue to fund once London & Partners was up and running. However Boris, has done a U-turn. He revealed this week that individuals who were employed at Visit London will no longer be able to benefit from the British Tourist Board pension scheme. It looks like those affected will lose 10% of their pension entitlement.
This is a dangerous precedent. Many Conservatives would love to bankrupt the pension schemes for teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers. This would allow them to cut the public sector pensions which they see as part of state spending to be cut on ideological grounds. There is no ‘we are all in it together’. People dependent on pensions they have paid into and worked for find they no longer are secure. I think Boris Johnson should make former Visit London’s future pension entitlements as secure as his own generous pension provision as mayor of London. Or can we bankrupt his personal pension pot to help make some cuts?
You can watch Tim Donovan’s report by clicking the link here. Scroll to 6 minutes 30 seconds and the piece is 3 minutes long.