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Dave Prentis

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Dave Prentis

Dave Prentis
3rd General Secretary of UNISON
Assumed office
Preceded by Rodney Bickerstaffe
Personal details
Born 1950 (age 64–65)
Leeds, England
Alma mater

Dave Prentis (born 1950, Leeds[1]) is the current General Secretary of UNISON, the United Kingdom's second largest trade union.[2] He was originally elected on 1 January 2001 and was re-elected in March 2005, with 77% of the vote.[3]


  • Early life 1
  • Trade unions 2
    • UNISON leadership 2.1
  • Public appointments 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Daily Mail apology 5
  • Views on Tax loopholes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8
    • News items 8.1

Early life

Prentis was born and brought up in Leeds where he attended a Catholic grammar school and went to the University of London where he took a BA in History, then studied Economic History at the LSE. This was followed by a masters degree in Industrial Relations at the University of Warwick.[1]

Trade unions

He joined NALGO in 1975. In 1990, he became the deputy general secretary. He was the UNISON's deputy general secretary (DGS) since its formation in July 1993, when it was formed from NALGO, NUPE and CoHSE.

UNISON leadership

In his role as the deputy general secretary, Prentis directed UNISON's national negotiating team and oversaw the union's policy making functions. He also drove through a strategic review of the union, aimed at delivering key reforms, to bring union services closer to the members. In 2001, he succeeded Rodney Bickerstaffe as General Secretary of UNISON, having been elected in February 2000.

Prentis is responsible for 1,500 staff and a turnover of around £160 million.[4] As General Secretary, he received a total salary and benefits package worth £112,114 in the accounting year ending 31 December 2013.[5]

He is a member of the TUC general council, TUC executive committee and the Trade Union Labour Party Liaison Committee. He was elected President of the TUC for the year 2008.[6]

He is a member of the Labour Party's economy commission and the Labour Party joint policy committee.

Public appointments

  • Member of various joint working parties with the government and the CBI
  • since, 1 June 2012, non-executive director of the Bank of England. The initial appointment is until 31 May 2015.[7] For the accounting year 2013/14 non-executive directors of the Bank of England received total remuneration of £165,458.[8]

Personal life

In 2000, he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and stomach. He had much of his stomach removed, underwent chemotherapy, and then contracted MRSA in hospital. Since his recovery from cancer he has been unable to eat large meals.[1]

Daily Mail apology

The The Mail on Sunday was obliged to print an apology to Dave Prentis on 7 August 2011[9] after incorrectly reporting the previous week that Prentis had received a 31% increase in pension contributions from UNISON. In fact as a member of the UNISON staff pension scheme he was funding the pension increase himself through a 'salary sacrifice' scheme. Other media reported that "many up and down the country use this same technique to minimise their bill" by avoiding marginal tax rate of 60% on salary above £100,000[10] The Daily Mail had been correct in it's original statement that Prentis' "total earnings package [for 2010] has risen to £143,887 – up from £142,312 last year" (a 1.1% increase). The figure of £143,887 shown in UNISON's financial statements for 2010[11] was the total cost to the union of employing Prentis for that year - therefore including both the Employers NI costs (£10,003) and the Employers contributions to UNISON's staff pension fund (£32,818) - both contributions to Prentis' pension pots. The £32,818 was an increase of £7899 (31.6%) over the figure of £24,919 made the previous year. However, his basic salary had been cut from £92,688 the previous year to £86,892 (down by £5,796). Overall his "total salary and benefits" went down by £5,511 but his employer's contributions to his pension funds went up by £7,086 accounting for the 1.1% overall increase in employment costs.

Prentis claimed, and the Daily Mail agreed after his complaint, that his increased pension benefits were "self-funded".[9] This means that they came out of his salary in a "salary sacrifice" scheme, not that he funded them from other income or assets. Salary sacrifice payments to registered pension funds are tax free to the employee and NIC free to the employer. Thus without loss of benefits to Prentis, UNISON saved £24,954 the following year in its total cost of employing him:[12] instead of paying £32,818 in staff pension contributions into his pension fund which would have been taxed at 60%, Prentis "scarificed" £9,275 of his salary which was paid, without deductions, into his pension fund. This kept the taxable part of his salary below £100,000, thus avoiding the 60% marginal tax rate.

All three sets of UNISON annual accounts referred to here (2010,[11] 2012,[12] 2013[5]) note that "Pension costs are prior to employee salary sacrifice, which started on 1 April 2010". This being the case, it is less than transparently clear (perhaps, also, to the Daily Mail columnist) why some, at least, of the tax benefits to UNISON of the salary sacrifice scheme in regard to Prentis do not appear on the 2010 accounts (they cover the period 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2010).

Views on Tax loopholes

“It would be a huge mistake to slash the tax rate for top earners. This is another example of the rich being let off lightly, while low paid workers bear the brunt. “It would be totally wrong to lose £750 million to the Treasury at a time when public sector workers are being forced to face pay freezes and job losses, and there are millions out of work. “The Government would be better advised to look at plugging tax loopholes for the rich and tackling tax evasion that costs us billions, rather than giving top earners a cash break.”
—Dave Prentis, UNISON press release, 5 Aug 2011[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Christopher Hope (24 July 2008). "Profile: Dave Prentis, an elder statesman of the awkward squad". Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "Trade Unions / United Kingdom / Countries / National Industrial Relations / Home - WORKER". 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  3. ^ – About Dave Prentis. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  4. ^ [Archived July 31, 2011 at the  
  5. ^ a b "UNISON financial Statements, 2013" (pdf). p. 16. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "New TUC President elected in Brighton". Trades Union Congress. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Bank of England | About the Bank | People & governance | The Court of Directors". Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Bank of England Annual Report, 2014". p. 53. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Dave Prentis | Mail Online. (2011-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-11-28.
  10. ^ Dave Prentis is a Tax Hypocrite. Guido Fawkes' blog (AUGUST 10TH, 2011). Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  11. ^ a b [Archived April 17, 2012 at the  
  12. ^ a b "UNISON financial Statements, 2012" (pdf). p. 16. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  13. ^ [Archived October 11, 2011 at the  

External links


News items

  • article August 2008Telegraph
  • Elected in February 2000
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Rodney Bickerstaffe
General Secretary of UNISON
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Alison Shepherd
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
Sheila Bearcroft
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