Legal action taken against Home Office on injury pension reform
12 May 2017
Deputy General Secretary Andy Ward
Retired police officers who are now having any Employment Support Allowance (ESA) they are entitled to deducted from their injury pension could benefit from a Judicial Review initiated by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).
Action has been taken by the PFEW to file a Judicial Review against the Home Office relating to the deduction of the ESA from injury pensions payable under the Police Injury Benefit Regulations 2006 (PIBR). Specifically, the PFEW has concerns about the way in which the Home Office has chosen to make changes to the law allowing ESA to be deducted from injury pensions.
ESA is a benefit payable to anyone whose illness or disability affects their ability to work. ESA was introduced in 2008 primarily as a replacement for Incapacity Benefit. For retired officers, the value of Incapacity Benefit could be deducted from injury pensions under the PIBR. Until now, the Home Office had not amended legislation to allow similar deductions regarding ESA, but it is now trying to do so.
Instead of making the required changes under the Police Pensions Act 1976, as the PFEW believe it should have done, the Home Office has made them under the Welfare Reform Act 2007. The Home Office stated that its reason for this was to bypass the “no worsening” provisions in the PPA.
Andy Ward, Deputy General Secretary of the PFEW, said: “We are concerned by the Home Office’s approach, as it sets a precedent in its avoidance of the “no worsening” provisions which are there to protect members. We have been in discussions with the Home Office about this matter for nearly three years, taken legal advice throughout the process and challenged the validity of the Home Office’s approach. However, despite the concerns and objections we have raised, the Home Office has enacted the changes in the original form and using the Welfare Reform Act to do so. Consequently, we have taken further legal advice and as a result filed an application for a Judicial Review of the validity of the Amending Regulations.”
Since 10 February 2017, when these changes became law, retired police officers receiving an injury pension have had the amount of any ESA they are entitled to deducted from their injury pension. This change applies to pensions already being paid, so as a result many recipients will get less money. It will also affect all injury pension pay outs made in the future - but this legal challenge, if successful, can only affect those already in receipt of an injury pension.