The government has made unions a renewed offer on pensions that it claims equates to an 8 per cent increase on previous proposals.

Speaking in parliament this afternoon, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he had listened to trade union representatives, who have been arguing against planned changes to public sector pensions.

He said pensions would be accrued at a rate of one sixtieth of an employees’ average salary, for each year of work, whereas previously the government planned to reduce this to one sixty-fifth.

Mr Alexander said: “That is an 8 per cent increase on the previous offer”.

In addition, anyone within 10 years of retirement will receive extra protection, meaning that - unlike other workers - they will not have to work longer before being able to retire and will see no decrease in the value of their pension.

Mr Alexander said this was “an affordable deal, that ensures that taxpayers are being asked to make a sensible contribution, but keeps costs sustainable and under proper control”.

It was “conditional” on an agreement being reached with unions before the end of the year, he added.

As expected, there was no movement on the planned switch from a final salary scheme to one based on career averages.

The Unison strike ballot on action starting from 30 November closes tomorrow. The outcome of ballots held by a range of other unions, including Unite, is due later this month.

NHS Employers director Dean Royles said: “This revised offer provides the basis for further detailed discussions with a chance to reach agreement and avoid industrial action.

“Employers and unions know that strike action will affect patient care and in light of this statement, such action would be premature.”

Unions met to discuss the proposals straight after a meeting with Treasury officials this morning.

14.27 - TUC statement issued

The TUC’s Public Services Liaison Group has issued a statement, welcoming the “movement in the government’s position”.

It said: “These proposals, and their detailed implications for the pensions offer within each scheme, will now need to be considered in detail within the sector specific negotiations, alongside all the other issues including proposed contribution increases, increases in the pension age, and the impact of the indexation change from RPI to CPI on which the government’s position remains unchanged.

‘All the unions have indicated throughout this process their determination to reach a negotiated settlement on all these issues. That remains the position and unions will engage intensively in the coming weeks. But unless and until further real progress is made and acceptable offers are made within those negotiations, unions remain firmly committed to continuing their preparations for the planned day of action on November 30.

‘A further meeting of the PSLG will be held in November to consider reports on any progress made within the sector talks.’