- Meeting of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, Wednesday, 14th October, 2020 11.00 am (Item 9.)
To consider item 9
The Lead Member for Finance and Assets, Information Security and IT introduced the report.
The Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that this report was for noting. It covered two formal consultations the deadline for responses were the 8 and 11 October 2020. Responses had already been submitted in agreement with the Chairman and Lead Member. Both consultations sought views on how best to remedy the firefighters pension scheme and the local government pension scheme following the McCloud/Sargeant ruling. Certain protections offered as part of the transition from old schemes to new schemes were discriminatory and had to be remedied.
The proposal for the local government pension scheme was more straight forward and simply removed the age requirement from the underpin qualification criteria during the qualifying period.
The firefighter pension scheme proposals were more complex, in that there were two proposals. Essentially, firefighters would have a choice whether they remain in their legacy scheme or transfer into the new scheme during the transition period which runs between 2015 and 2022. The proposals were that they had to either make this choice immediately or they have a deferred choice, whereby they make the choice of which scheme they want to be in when they retire.
In terms of the proposals, the Authority didn’t express a preference for either option, the approach had been to highlight the implications for both choices and that there would be additional costs in terms of administration and almost certainly higher employer contributions and also made representations that these should be funded by central government and should not be a burden on local council tax payers.
As part of this, the Authority had also stressed the need for clear guidance for both employers and members of both pension schemes as they were becoming increasingly complex, and guidance was essential for everyone involved.
A Member had noted that the Local Government Association (LGA) had published a response with a preference for the deferred option and asked why the LGA felt that was the better option.
The Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that the LGA had expressed quite a clear preference for the deferred option, the overriding basis for this was that the LGA felt it mitigated the risk of any future legal challenge. One of the issues they noticed was that if there was an immediate choice exercise, not all members were massively engaged in pensions, especially the younger ones and they may not engage and make that immediate choice.
The consultation also noted that immediate choice was irrevocable although it would bring more certainly to the employer in terms of being able to value the scheme and set employers contributions. The overall impact on the Authority of either scheme was the amount of administration and the amount of resource would increase even further over the next couple of years whatever choice was made.
The Chairman asked about the guidance and was advised that it was something the Authority was pushing government to lead on. The Authority was asking for clear guidance to come from the Home Office. It was also supported by the Local Government Association, who employ two pension advisors for which the Authority pay a levy and they advise all authorities and the Authority was further supported by its pension’s administrator.
A Member asked how could we ensure that members of the pension schemes, especially the younger ones, were going to get the correct advice and was advised that the Authority would provide staff with as many updates and communications as possible to keep them apprised with what was going on and where to seek advice if they need it. The Authority also held regular retirement planning sessions for staff with an independent expert.
(Councillor Cole left the meeting)
That the responses to the consultation be noted.
- ITEM 9_Public Service Pension Scheme Consultations cover report, item 9. PDF 132 KB
- ITEM 9a_Appendix A - Transitional arrangements to the 2015 schemes, item 9. PDF 864 KB
- ITEM 9b_Appendix B - (Draft) response to transitional arrangements to the 2015 schemes, item 9. PDF 369 KB
- ITEM 9c_Appendix C - Amendments to the statutory underpin consultation, item 9. PDF 701 KB
- ITEM 9d_Appendix D - (Draft) response to amendments to the statutory underpin consultation, item 9. PDF 354 KB