On 12 February 2019, the SAB Chair wrote to the Home Office, confirming a unified agreement from the board that a one year extension of the employee contribution rate should be made.
The Home Office confirmed that under this interim proposal the cost of accruing pension scheme benefits will remain the same for members of the 2015 scheme for the year 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020. If it is agreed that changes to member contribution rates (or other changes) are required as a result of the overall valuation process, HMT has confirmed that any changes will be backdated until 1 April 2019, where it is appropriate to do so.
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Following the Employment Tribunal’s interim declaration that firefighters affected by age discrimination will be allowed to return to their pre-2015 pension schemes, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has revealed that it intends to initiate a second, separate claim for members who are in the 2015 Firefighters Pension Scheme or the Local Government Pension Scheme 2014 and who cannot transfer to the older Firefighters or Local Government pension schemes.
The second claim relates to the cost control mechanism that was provided for by the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 to ensure that the costs of the new public sector pension schemes established in 2014 and 2015 remain sustainable in future. The government decided to pause the cost control mechanism in January 2019 on the basis that it needed to know the outcome of its application for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the firefighters pensions age discrimination claim before proceeding.
However, in June 2019 the Supreme Court refused the government’s application for permission to appeal and the FBU now says that it will start a new legal claim against the government if it does not lift the pause on the cost control mechanism, which it says would result in a significant improvement in benefits or reduction in contributions for members of the 2015 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the 2014 Local Government Pension Scheme with retrospective effect to 1 April 2019.