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Firefighters Pension Scheme

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 18 December 2013

People are now living much longer and, as a result, the cost of public service pensions has increased by around a third. Despite recent reforms, most of these increased costs are being met by taxpayers. As a result, all public service pension schemes, including the firefighters’ pension scheme, are being reformed.

I have today published a consultation on regulations to implement the firefighters’ pension scheme 2015 as set out in the proposed final agreement (May 2012). The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will conclude on 12 March 2014. My proposals will ensure that firefighters continue to get one of the most generous pensions available in the public sector, with guaranteed levels of benefit and inflation proofing. The proposals are fair to both firefighters and to taxpayers.

Firefighters are the only public service work force where new recruits will not see any increase in their retirement age. A normal pension age of 60 was introduced in 2006 and will be the same as for the police and armed forces. A greater proportion of firefighters are protected from changes than any other large public service work force and less than a quarter of firefighters will see any change in their retirement age in 2015. All benefits accrued up to April 2015 will be linked to the member’s final salary on retirement and can be taken at their current pension age.

For every £1 a firefighter pays into the scheme, taxpayers now pay in an extra £5 to meet scheme costs. A firefighter, who earns £29,000 and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a pension of £19,000 rising to £26,000 with a state pension. The same pension from a private sector provider would require double the level of contributions that will be made by firefighters.

A consultation on fitness and capability issues concluded recently and a Government response will be published in due course. This builds on the constructive round table discussion that I held on 4 December including the fire service representative bodies and the employers.

I have placed a copy of the consultation paper on reforms to the firefighters’ pension scheme in the Library of the House