Firefighters Pension Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 15th December 2014.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Limehouse 2:30 pm, 15th December 2014

What estimate he has made of the number of firefighters who will retire early on medical grounds with a reduced pension after the introduction of the new firefighters pension scheme.

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Any firefighter who retires early on medical grounds, owing to being permanently unable to undertake their role, will be entitled to take their pension without a reduction. Our final scheme provides a better pension for those firefighters than the alternative scheme for which the Fire Brigades Union is lobbying.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Limehouse

The Minister said on 10 November that no firefighter who fails to meet the standard would lose their job, yet Dr Tony Williams, who was appointed by the Government to assess the regulations, has said that two thirds of firefighters will not make the cut. How can she reconcile those two opposing views and cost firefighters over 20% of their pension?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

That is not what Dr Williams said. The 2006 scheme, which was introduced under the previous Labour Government, has had firefighters working until 60. They have been working under the pension scheme with no protections if they fail a fitness test and are unable to continue their operational role through no fault of their own. We are introducing those protections. There is a written ministerial statement today and a statutory instrument will appear tomorrow, and it will guarantee, placing on a statutory footing—obviously firefighters are entitled to ill health retirement—that if there is not an underlying medical condition and they cannot pass the fitness test, either they will receive an alternative role or the authority will have to initiate a pension.

Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

I have read the ministerial statement that has been placed in the Library this afternoon. It sets out the requirement for local authorities to consider an authority-initiated retirement. Can my hon. Friend confirm that it is her intention that under these circumstances firefighters will be guaranteed an authority-initiated retirement?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Absolutely. We are very clear in the ministerial statement that we have tabled today and in the guidance that will accompany it that that is what we expect to happen. In addition, because I recognise that firefighters need those safeguards, my Department will carry out an audit.