Engaging with the government around the police pension schemes is one of our most important areas of work because a police pension has always been regarded as a key element of the remuneration of our members.
Police pensions have undergone a number of reforms since their introduction in the 19th century, the most recent of which was in 2015, when The Police Pension Scheme 2015 was brought in. Details of how the 2015 scheme works can be found in our FAQ document issued in March 2015.
What are the police pension schemes?
Currently our members are in one of three schemes – the Police Pension Scheme 1987 (1987 Scheme) which was available for members who joined before 6 April 2006, the New Police Pension Scheme 2006 (2006 Scheme) for those who joined between 6 April 2006 and 31 March 2015 or the 2015 Scheme.
The 2015 Scheme came into effect on 1 April 2015. This is a Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) scheme, and brought about one of the biggest changes to police pensions in history. The introduction of the 2015 Scheme implemented the government’s policy of moving public service pensions to CARE arrangements and away from final salary schemes like the 1987 and 2006 schemes. Primary legislation was used to avoid a “no worsening” provision contained the Police Pensions Act 1976.
What did PFEW do when the 2015 Scheme was announced?
We had no right to negotiate over the introduction of the 2015 Scheme, so instead engaged in consultation. We have produced a timeline outlining that process.
Our view was that the 2015 Scheme should only apply to new recruits. This was rejected, but we supported the use of transitional arrangements - as did the trade unions involved with other public service workers - to improve the position for as many of our members as we could. We obtained legal advice throughout the process.
More than 49,000 of our members at the time of the introduction of the 2015 Scheme on 1 April 2015 received full protection and remain in their original scheme, while a further 18,000 have tapered protection, which means that they have gradually been moved over or will be in the future from the 1987 or 2006 scheme to the 2015 scheme. Pension accrued in the 1987 or 2006 schemes before being moved over to the 2015 scheme are protected.
Why have PFEW not legally challenged the pension changes?
When the new pension scheme was introduced, a group of officers decided to put in their own legal challenge to the transitional arrangements. The Federation’s legal advice strongly advised that a challenge was unlikely to be successful and we also believe that the transitional arrangements are a good thing. More information and FAQs on our legal position can be accessed here.
In early 2017, employment tribunal cases raised by judges and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) surrounding the implementation of their transitional arrangements were heard. The tribunal ruled in favour of the judges saying that those afforded transitional protection have been treated in a way that causes unlawful discrimination – and that those given protections may have in fact been treated better than they need have been.
The FBU case had a different outcome, with the tribunal finding in favour of the government, ruling that while the transitional arrangements under the new firefighters’ scheme do discriminate against some of their members, they were justifiable, as they were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Both of these rulings are being been appealed.
After these cases, we produced a further FAQ in March 2017, along with a timeline of our work to provide clarity on what we have done throughout the process. Police pensions remain a priority for the Federation and we are committed to ensuring the best provision for our members.
Where can I find out more about the police pension schemes?
Details on each scheme are available here:
• 2015 Scheme (current scheme, for officers who joined the service on or after 1 April 2015 and for those who were moved across from the 1987 and 2006 schemes)
• 2006 Scheme
• 1987 Scheme
More information is available on the police pension scheme pages of gov.uk.
A pension calculator
Following continued lobbying by the PFEW, the Home Office agreed in June 2017 to provide a police pension calculator for officers.
While there is currently no timescale for completion, we hope that it will not be too long as the calculator can be adapted from the work done on the Scottish equivalent.
Got more questions?
The Police Pension Schemes are administered locally by each police force. If there are any points about which you would like further help, please contact the pensions’ administrator for your force.
If you are not sure where to find the pensions administrator for your force, your human resources or personnel section should be able to provide the right contact. Alternatively, there is a full list of the pensions’ administrators for all forces in England and Wales on the gov.uk website.