The issue of public section pension reform continues and the RFU continues to play its part in helping shape the future scheme for all operational firefighters which will come into effect in 2015/16.
Part of this process has been for central government (DCLG) to set up a separate group (Pension Reform Group) to discuss the mechanics of a new scheme. The group includes all relevant stakeholders in England(Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will have separate schemes). In addition the RFU has been holding separate one-to-one meetings with DCLG which has allowed for more focused discussions on how different proposals of a new scheme would impact on Retained/On-Call personnel.
We thought it would be useful to provide our members with an update of what the main aspects of the new scheme might look like based on current proposals.
- Normal Pension Age of 60 (this is the same as the current New Firefighter Pension Scheme (NFPS))
- Accrual rate of 1/57th (the NFPS is 1/60th)
- Career Average Benefits (the NFPS is a final salary)
- The use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to up-rate benefits
- Average employee contributions of 13.2% (the NFPS is 8.5% for all members of the scheme)
- Current members of the NFPS who are due to reach the Normal Pension Age (NPA) within the next 10 years (as at April 2012) will have their current benefits protected.
We will continue to argue that the new scheme has tiered contribution rates so lower earners (Retained/On-Call personnel) would pay a lower rate (than the 13.2% average) while middle/senior managers would pay a higher rate.
We fully support the introduction of a ‘Career Average’ scheme which would not allow for large pension payouts unless adequate contributions had been amassed in preceding years.
Talks will continue with the DCLG up until the current deadline date of 08 February 2012 when it is hoped that a ‘Heads of Agreement’ document will be agreed by all or the majority of trade unions. A failure to reach an agreement could lead to a new pension scheme being imposed by ministers.
We will continue to update our members as and when reliable information is available.