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Police: Pensions

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the potential annual cost of extending the survivor benefits of the new Police Pension Scheme to the spouses and civil partners of officers who died whilst on duty and who are in the old Police Pension Scheme; (127708)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of (a) spouses and (b) civil partners of police officers who have died while on duty who would lose their survivor benefits under the Police Pension Scheme were they to remarry or cohabit.

Under the provisions for police injury benefits, which are not dependent on pension scheme membership, a special or augmented pension of up to half the officer's pensionable pay is payable to a surviving spouse or civil partner where the officer dies as a result of an injury received without their own default in the execution of their duty as a constable. Under the Police Pension Scheme 1987 (old scheme) an ordinary pension of up to one third the officer's pensionable pay is payable to a surviving spouse or civil partner where the officer dies in service, whether or not they were on duty at the time.

Police pensions and police injury benefits are administrated locally by the police authority for the force concerned and details of the number of surviving spouses and civil partners of officers who died while on duty and of the cost of their pensions are not held centrally. However, it is estimated that in the region of 400 surviving spouses are in receipt of a special or augmented pension in the UK. About half of this number are in respect of police officers who died in Northern Ireland. No separate estimate has been made of the number of surviving civil partners in receipt of such a pension but the estimate given for spouses can still be taken to include civil partners in view of the relatively short time since the start of civil partnerships.

The Government Actuary's Department has estimated that the capitalised extra cost of making these pensions life-long to be between £10 million and £20 million. This estimate is indicative only since it is subject to a considerable degree of uncertainty. The capital cost would manifest itself in additional cash expenditure over a period of decades peaking in 10 to 20 years' time. This cost only relates to survivor pensions currently in payment. There would also be additional costs relating to pensions to spouses and civil partners of police officers who die in the future as result of an injury received in the execution of their duty. The cost does not include the reinstatement of any pension that has already ceased on remarriage, formation of a civil partnership or cohabitation, or the backdating of any such restored pension.

The Government Actuary's Department has also estimated the capitalised extra cost of making all survivor pensions life-long where they are payable upon an officer's death in service (i.e. ordinary pensions as well as special and augmented pensions) to be between £50 million to £100 million.