Police Pension Scheme 2015 – the legal position

Throughout the pension reform process PFEW has listened to the views and concerns of members and the Pension Challenge group, and we have taken advice from our lawyers and from leading counsel about the legality of the Government’s changes. We have recently taken further advice from leading counsel as to whether the position has changed or is affected by the publication of the Police Pensions Regulations 2015.

All possible challenges have been considered including:

• Public law (judicial review: but being primary legislation, this is not subject to this);
• European law and  Human Rights law (in several recent cases the European Court of Human Rights has not been swayed by arguments that those on the public service have had to bear the brunt of economic reform);  
• Discrimination. (The key challenge here considered was whether these pension changes would be age discrimination: however, the law states that age discrimination can be justified as a proportionate means to a legitimate end, and it is likely to be considered as such in this instance).

At this time, we will therefore not be challenging the introduction of the Police Pension Scheme 2015. However, we will continue to monitor how the scheme operates in practice and we maintain an open mind should circumstances change that give rise to a potential successful legal challenge.

We have compiled a guide to the challenge, as far as we understand it, which includes some recommendations on what officers may wish to consider before they lodge a claim. We will update this if further information becomes available. This document is here and further background information about the new pension scheme can be found below. We have also written an open letter to members.

We have also produced a video which explains in more detail the issues we have considered. You can watch the individual frequently asked questions and answers as below or watch the whole film here.

Q1 What are the pension reforms about?
Q2 So, PFEW wasn't able to negotiate on these changes [to the career average (CARE) scheme]?
Q3 Who do these changes actually affect?
Q4 Is the CARE scheme as good as the 1987 pension scheme?
Q5 Is the CARE scheme better than the 2006 scheme that was introduced?
Q6 What is all this about a 'pensions challenge'?
Q7 What’s the basis of this legal challenge? What are they attempting to challenge?
Q8 Does the challenge include everyone?
Q9 Have you seen the legal advice that they [the challenge group] have been offered?
Q10 What’s the Federation position on transitional arrangements?
Q11 Why are you [PFEW] not taking the same action [as the challenge group]?
Q12 Why are you not funding the challenge?
Q13 What’s the PFEW legal advice on the introduction of these [CARE] pensions?
Q14 How many people have you actually sought [legal] advice from?
Q15 How much have you [PFEW] spent on your legal advice?
Q16 Why have you not published it [the PFEW legal advice]?
Q17 What actually happens if these pension challenge claimants win?
Q18 How confident are you that you’re legal advice is sound?
Q19 The Fire Brigades Union is taking action - why are they doing it and you’re not?
Q20 The judges are taking action, what's the basis of the judges’ claim?
Q21 Are you stuck in this position - is there anything that could happen that could change your mind?

We hope this will assist you in finding the necessary information; however, if you are unclear, please contact your local branch board who will be able to help.

Andy Fittes
General Secretary
Police Federation of England and Wales

Over the last two years much information has been issued about the proposals and the scheme:

The regulations laid on Thursday 5 March

The guidance received on Friday 6 March from the Home Office

Our own FAQs which are aimed at helping officers to understand the new scheme - March 2015

- Purchase of Additional Benefits in CARE 2015 pension scheme FAQs - Aug 2016