CIRCULAR2012HOC0196SSÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
30th March 2012
TO:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â BRIGADE SECRETARIES
Summary of responses to the consultation on the proposed increases to employee contribution rates, effective from 1 April 2012 for England
The Westminster Government yesterday (29 March 2012), revealed the increased levels of employee contribution rates for the 1992 Firefightersâ€™ Pension Scheme and the 2006 New Firefightersâ€™ Pension Scheme, effective in England from 1 April 2012. These outlined increases that had been amended from those that stakeholders were originally consulted on.
All members were immediately informed of these through a circular 2012HOC0186MW which also explained that we had written to ministers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales outlining our continued opposition to any increases but seeking confirmation from them that should they increase employee contributions they will reflect those applied in England.Â
At the same time that they released the amended increases, Westminster Government also released a summary of responses to the consultation on the proposed increases to employee contribution rates, effective from 1 April 2012 for England.
This summary, which is attached for your information, outlines some of the arguments that were submitted as part of the consultation which ran from 9 September 2011 until 2 December 2011.
The union submitted substantial evidence to this consultation process, including the findings of the YouGov survey on potential opt outs, attitudes to retention and recruitment and the potential impact on future promotion. In addition to this we also reiterated the findings from reports we had commissioned from First Actuarial which demonstrated the potential cash flow problems that an increase in opt outs or non joiners would have on the schemes in the future.
We highlighted that the proposals had not recognised that firefighters already pay one of the highest contribution rates in public sector pension schemes and it is unfair to make them pay more especially in a time of pay freezes and high rates of inflation.
We recognise that to some extent Westminster Government seems to have listened to our arguments and;
â€˜have decided that it is appropriate, in the specific case of the Firefightersâ€™ Pension Scheme to proceed with an altered contribution rate increase from April 2012.â€™
We remain opposed to any increase in employee contributions whilst also recognising that these increases represent the lowest rates of increase of any of the unfunded schemes in the public sector.
The Westminster Government has given a commitment that they will review the impact of the proposed 2012-13 contribution changes, including the effect of membership opt-outs, before taking final decisions on how future increases will be delivered in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
The terms of reference for this â€˜opt out reviewâ€™ were agreed at the Firefightersâ€™ Pension Committee on 28 March 2012.
We are disappointed that there was any increase in the employee contribution rate before the review commenced but Westminster Government have made it clear;
â€˜that they feel the altered levels of contributions will help reduce the risk of opt outs from the Firefightersâ€™ Pension Schemes.â€™
The union recognises the importance of the â€˜opt out reviewâ€™ and we are already discussing how this process will be delivered and managed.Â
You will be updated on this and given further details as more information becomes available.
Yours in Unity,