Fire Services: Pensions

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 11th June 2014.

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Photo of Charlotte Leslie Charlotte Leslie Conservative, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish the costed potential changes to firefighter pensions.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

Earlier this year I met with the Union leadership and agreed to their request for the Government Actuary’s Department to cost alternative pension scheme designs for them. E-mails received from the Union’s consulting actuary set out a range of alternative scheme designs to be costed on behalf of the Union. Each of these alternative scheme designs concerned variations on the early retirement factors for firefighters who retired before age 60. In each instance the Department provided the letters from the Government Actuary’s Department to the Union at the earliest possible point in time. No other proposals were costed by the Government Actuary’s Department and the Union did not request the preparation of any other costings.

These costings were conducted during a period of constructive discussion and the Union leadership knew we were considering these proposals. I had been clear that it was only possible to consider such proposals during a period when strike action was in abeyance. Rather than continue and finalise that constructive process the Union leadership chose to call a halt to them prematurely by announcing further unnecessary strike action.

The Fire Brigades Union has launched a correspondence campaign to release this information, which is odd given that it is information that they already hold. To provide transparency over the process, I am publishing copies of the relevant papers on the firefighter pensions webpage at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/firefighters-pension-scheme-reforms and will place copies in the Library of the House.

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