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Surrey Police Federation

PFEW urges officers to not make rash decisions about pensions

12 February 2019

Officers have been urged not to make any rash decisions about their pensions by the Police Federation of England and Wales as the future remains unclear.

The Government has announced it will not be taking further action to rectify the public service pension cost cap breach due to the ‘uncertain impact’ of December’s Court of Appeal ruling that the transitional protections provided for older judges and firefighters amount to unlawful discrimination.

The situation is currently complicated, according to the Police Federation of England and Wales, which has issued new advice around pensions.

PFEW National Secretary, Alex Duncan, said: “The Government’s decision to halt the remedy for the cost cap breach means that the higher accrual rate for all existing members of the 2015 CARE Scheme that would have been put in place is now on hold until the judges and firefighters’ case has reached its conclusion. The Government has applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal the decision of the CoA, and PFEW expects to hear if this is granted in early summer.

“The PFEW said that the suspension of the cost cap breach remedy suggests that the Government is moving towards an ‘industrial resolution’ that would apply across public sector pension schemes, in keeping with the potential outcome of the judges’ and firefighters’ claims. Potential resolutions could alter the liabilities of the schemes, and require them to be reassessed by the Government Actuary’s Department to see where the schemes stand in relation to the cost cap.”

He added: “Our interpretation is that the Government now fears that the higher accrual rate we had agreed as a cost cap remedy will not now be affordable. There are currently a lot of uncertainties, but be assured that anything that has already been accrued by way of pension, and continues to be accrued until any changes are made, is protected.”

The PFEW has said it is unable to predict what will happen next, and that it needs to consider all possibilities.

Mr Duncan added: “We understand people’s frustrations and concerns, but it would be irresponsible of us to speculate and provide guidance based on guesswork about the eventual outcome. Currently, our recommendation to members is to not rush into taking decisions and/or actions. The police pension schemes remain better than alternatives.

“Our understanding is that those representing the police pension challenge group are inviting officers who are not currently signed up with them to do so now. Our advice is to wait. The Government’s recent moves suggest that it is planning to take action across the public sector. This means it is possible that only the judges’ and firefighters’ cases will be heard in court, as the police pension challenge case has been stayed. In those circumstances, any remedy will cover all impacted members.”

To find out more, go to: http://www.polfed.org/fedatwork/Pensions.aspx