Fire Services: Pensions

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 29th February 2012.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the findings of (a) the report entitled Pension Schemes in the Fire Service and the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission by Tony Cutler and Barbara Waine, (b) a report on the impact of the Governments' proposals for members of the firefighters' pension scheme and the new firefighters' pension scheme by First Actuarial consultants, (c) a scoping study: Review of ageing and the demands on firefighting by Richard Graveling and Joanne Crawford on behalf of the Institute of Occupational Medicine and (d) the report entitled Fitness for Work: Estimate of the deterioration of the aerobic fitness of firefighters with age by Richard Graveling on behalf of the Institute of Occupational Medicine. [R]

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Each of the reports referred to were commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union as part of the detailed discussions around setting the cost ceiling for, and undertaking further discussions on, reforms to firefighter pensions. I am grateful for the continued dialogue with the Fire Brigades Union and all of the firefighter unions to discussions on pension reforms, and for providing the evidence in the reports which, I can confirm, have been fully considered by the Government.

On 9 February, I updated the House on the Heads of Agreement that has now been reached on proposed reforms to the firefighters' pension schemes, a copy of which was deposited in the Library of the House. The proposals will ensure that firefighters continue to have access to good quality pensions that are sustainable, fair and effective.

The design parameters provide for 10 years of transitional protection, so that those closest to retirement will see no change in when they can retire, nor any decrease in the amount of pension they receive at their normal pension age. There will also be a further four years of tapered protection, and a final salary link for all benefits earned under final salary arrangements. The proposed new scheme provides for a defined benefit career average scheme with a generous accrual rate of 1/58.7ths based on in-service revaluation of average weekly earnings. There will also be flexible retirement from age 55, built around a normal pension age of 60, with enhanced retirement arrangements for active scheme members who are age 57 and over.

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