Chairman's Blog

Previous Blog Entries

Mar 2015 - Police Pensions - Some Facts

Dec 2014 - Taser

May 2014 - Home Secretary - Political "Shock & Awe"

October 2013 - Is the big question, are the IPCC fit for purpose?

August 2013 - Police Integrity

January 2013 - Police Pensions - Sold Down The River?

September 2012 - Taking Any Active Part in Politics!

July 2012 - Causual Overtime - Myth Buster

June 2012 - Best "Man" for the Job or a Piece of Ill-Judged Provocation?

20 April 2012 - Police Privatisation - A Threat to Policing by Consent - Myth or Reality?

Current Blog Entry

Police Pensions - Some Facts

(1) In the autumn of 2011, Danny Alexander MP (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) announced the 10 year protection for public sector pensions.

This was done in the face of widespread public sector strikes.

At this point PFEW did not know if that protection would apply to police officers.

All public sector pensions were going to change following Lord Hutton's report, a report with cross-party support. This dictated government policy in relation to public sector pensions in the context of austerity. Public sector workers were going to pay more, for longer, for less. Police pensions were not going to be exempt from this.

(2) In April 2012, the Home Secretary announced her "reference scheme" for a new police pension scheme. This included working until 60 and the 10 year protection outlined some 6 months earlier.

She only had to consult on pensions. Pensions are not negotiable.

PFEW's stance was clear - a new pension scheme should only apply to new joiners as it had done in 2006.

This was rejected due to the government's clear policy - pay more, for longer, for less.

PFEW, along with the Superintendents' Association and the Chief Police Officers Staff Association (the Staff Side of the now defunct Police Negotiating Board) had to make a decision. Engage in the consultation to try and make the reference scheme better or simply reject the reference scheme and let the Home Secretary force it through.

Be under no illusion, the Home Secretary could & would have introduced her reference scheme.

The decision taken was to engage in the consultation. This produced the ability to retire at 55, albeit with an actuarially reduced pension, and it extended the 10 year protection to those aged 38, and introduced tapered protection.

The consultation protected more officers and gave the ability for all to retire at 55.

All serving officers were never going to be protected - the government had already rejected that option.

Was it right to engage in the consultation? I firmly believe the facts answer that question, but for the avoidance of doubt, they were absolutely right to engage in the consultation process.

The 2015 CARE police pension was not negotiated by PFEW.

(3) Accusations of some "dirty deal" done to protect the pensions of PFEW officials and representatives, whilst "selling their junior colleagues down the river", is wholly untrue, unfair and frankly offensive.

This accusation does not stand any scrutiny of the facts.

Remember, the 10 year protection was announced by Danny Alexander MP some 6 months before the Home Secretary revealed her plan for police pensions.

(4) Accusations that PFEW did not "fight" because the pensions of their representatives & officials were safely protected are equally untrue, unfair and offensive.

Once again such accusations do not stand any scrutiny of the facts.

Additionally I am also unsure what is meant by the word "fight". Public sector unions have been on strike. Almost exclusively they will be working until they are 67/68 until they can draw their pensions. Firefighters have been striking to achieve a better pension, including a retirement age of 55.

As police officers PFEW had to rely solely on the consultation process to achieve some improvements to the original proposal by the Home Secretary.

We held an industrial rights ballot seeking to be treated like other workers whilst at the same time arguing we were a special case and shouldn't be subject to compulsory severance, an argument PFEW won. Like it or not, the rules for the ballot were clearly laid out beforehand. The reality is that not enough officers voted.

(5) There have been calls for PFEW to provide access to financial advisors, free of charge, so members can decide on whether to remain in the new pension scheme.

A financial advisor will not explain the mechanics of the new pension scheme. A financial advisor will not be able to tell an officer what pension they will get in 10, 15 or 20 years. The new scheme has too many variables within it. A financial advisor will be able to advise on whether the scheme is a sound investment based on contribution levels, employer contributions, a potential retirement at 55, a pension pot uprating mechanism based in part on CPI, etc. I suspect I could safely predict what that advisor's answer would be. However, if that advice proves to be incorrect, individual officers need to be able to hold their financial advisor to account at some point, possibly years in the future. It is not helpful to individuals if that line of accountability is clouded or confused by the involvement of PFEW.

If officers want the mechanism or detail of the scheme explained to them then that is a matter for the employer not the staff association. It isn't our scheme. Any answers should be sought from the expert; that expert is the pensions' administrator not a "well-meaning" Federation representative. If the answers prove to be incorrect you need to be able to hold the expert to account.

I do understand the anger of officers. However, that anger needs to be directed at the right people. It is not PFEW who have changed your pension. It is the government. Officers' anger should be directed towards them.

At our open meeting in 2010 I described the "perfect storm". Sadly that has proved to be all too accurate.

Ian Pointon
Kent Police Federation