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West Midlands Police Federation

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Federation wants action on pensions

4 July 2019

The Government has pledged to outline its position on police pensions before Parliament’s summer recess starts on 25 July.

This follows last Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on firefighters’ pensions refusing the Government leave to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal which had previously held that the transitional pension arrangements for firefighters and judges were illegal on the grounds of age discrimination.
 
While waiting for the Government response to the ruling, national Federation chair John Apter called for a resolution for all public sector pensions and, after attending a pre-arranged meeting of the Pension Scheme Advisory Board with officials from the Treasury and the Home Office on Monday, confirmed the Police Federation would bring any appropriate legal claims on behalf of members if its expectations were not met.

The Federation is asking for all protections for its members to be retained until 2022, and that affected members must be levelled up to this position.

It has also set out the following expectations on the pensions issue:
  • The Government must accept that all transitional arrangements were unlawful, but it must not, while addressing that discrimination, introduce other unfairness to our members
  • The Supreme Court decision applies across the public sector
  • The Government concedes the existing police pensions legal claims
  • It honours the promises made to those nearest retirement, and maintains the arrangements put in place
  • The Government must ensure that all those subject to discrimination are remedied appropriately
  • The remedy must also apply to those who have left the service.

However, Rich Cooke, chair of West Midlands Police Federation, does not feel the Federation is going far enough.

He explains: “We should be demanding full reversion to the original schemes we joined in good faith, on the basis of clear promises. This must be our ambition. I urge us to join with the rest of the public sector and make this our number one priority. Nothing else is acceptable, in my view.”

After Monday’s advisory board meeting, John Apter said: “The Government would not be drawn into what they were going to do next, or how they would be reacting to the Supreme Court judgement. But they said they would release a statement before Parliament’s summer recess begins on 25 July. This statement outlining their position cannot come soon enough.” He added: “The legal case has been made by the Appeal Court ruling; now is the time for the Government to step up and morally do the right thing."

And John concluded: “If their statement does not meet our expectations, then we are prepared to lodge claims on behalf of our membership. That work has already started.”

The national chair has also accepted that the Federation’s handling of the pensions issue had not been ideal.
“We accept that, although the Federation has always acted in good faith and in line with legal advice received, the way we explained and delivered the decisions we took, and why, were not clear enough. This should have been better. We also recognise the anxiety and frustration it has caused but now is the time to steady the ship to get the best possible outcome for our members,” John said.

“Yes, these have been divisive times, and rifts have been caused among our 120,000-strong membership. The job is hard enough as it is without turning on each other, but we need to heal those rifts now and work together to achieve what we want.”