The letter, submitted on April 4 by the LGA on behalf of fire authorities and the firefighters’ union, lamented the lack of a solution for members until the legislation is expected to arrive in October 2023.
Members affected by the ruling, which declared 2015 reforms to the judges’ and firefighters’ pension plans illegal on the basis of age discrimination, would be those who took or are receiving benefits before implementation of remedies legislation, which campaigners said could see them “face immediate harm”.
The FBU sent the government a similar letter in November 2021 in an attempt to stop the cost of the remedy falling on the members.
The FBU legal team is in the process of drafting the next very important set of legal claims that will soon be filed in court.
Affected members prepare legal action
The letter, which was addressed to the Home Office and the Treasury, referred to a framework agreed in October 2021 that would have facilitated payments to FPS members in a bid to compensate for this harm.
Signed by LGA Principal Pensions Secretary Jo Donnelly and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack, it observed that since the deal the Treasury has resisted alternative solutions to the expectation of the final regulations in 2023.
“This has left the FRAs in a position of uncertainty and affected scheme members are actively preparing legal action once again,” the letter said.
He acknowledged the difficulties encountered in the execution of certain payments, in particular those associated with contributions until the relevant tax situation was clarified.
The letter said plaintiffs in any new proceedings would argue that they are entitled to damages “that put them in the same position, net of any tax, in which they would have been had there not been received discriminatory treatment”.
“We do however see no problem with the immediate payment of pension arrears or lump sum arrears for those within 12 months of leaving and would appreciate your support in making these payments, in particular confirming that these payments will be treated the same as pension payments outside the scope of the funding remedy,” he added.
“Your position regarding the position of members who receive payments before the implementation of the Remedies legislation cannot be regularized by the Remedies legislation is irrelevant.”
The letter suggested that existing legislation would allow “more than adequate flexibility to ensure the regularization of scheme members with a considered approach to cases of immediate harm”.
“We do not accept the Treasury and Home Office delays in complying with the court’s decision,” FBU national official Mark Rowe said.
“There must be no further delay. The FBU legal team is in the process of drafting the next all-important set of legal claims that will soon be filed in court.
The government has been contacted for comments.
The FBU asks for a relaxation of the rules of reintegration into the program
The FBU also demanded that members be allowed to re-enter the firefighters’ pension plan after a key deadline in early April passed.
On March 25, the union received an email from the LGA urging members wishing to return to the scheme, given the appeal period, to take the necessary steps to re-register by April 1.
He acknowledged the many firefighters who left the scheme instead of being transferred into the 2015 Firefighters Pension Scheme when it was introduced.
The LGA noted that the government later acknowledged that these members might have acted differently if they had known that membership in their legacy schemes had been available during the appeal period.
“The government therefore intends to legislate for decisions like this through the contingent decision aspect of retrospective legislation,” the LGA said.
“While final policy on this is yet to be determined and we cannot provide any guarantee that any particular case will be considered a contingent decision, we thought it would be prudent to bring the following to your attention so that measures can be taken, if necessary.”
The LGA said it believed that if a member remained banned beyond April 1, they could, under retroactive legislation, be allowed to buy back their ban service that took place during the appeal period. .
He added that regulations would be unlikely to allow them to buy back service after March 31.
This would mean that their pension would remain deferred with a payout age of 60 for members of the 1992 firefighters pension scheme and 65 for the 2006 firefighters pension scheme whether or not they redeemed the opt-in service. -out during the appeal period.
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The LGA encouraged the FBU to share its message with members immediately, with the April 1 deadline for re-entry just days away.
The FBU released the LGA notice the same day and said it had raised concerns about the “extremely late notice” with members on sick leave or annual leave potentially missing the recall.
“The union is of the view that any member who does not become aware of this information until after March 31, 2022 should be given the opportunity to register as indicated above and be treated as if they had subscribed within the detailed deadlines in the email,” Rowe said in the union notice.