Union joins calls for pension top-ups in public sector

Union joins calls for pension top-ups in public sector

Prospect is the latest union to join calls urging the government to deliver on promised benefit top-ups to public sector pension schemes, which were paused due to a discrimination court case.

FTAdviser reported last week that the Public and Commercial Services Union and the Fire Brigades Union are seeking permission to launch a judicial review of the government’s decision to delay these increases.

A valuation of public sector pensions in 2018 found some public-sector employers were not spending enough on pensions, meaning benefits should be uplifted for members of those schemes.

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But in January 2019, Elizabeth Truss, then chief secretary to the Treasury, announced the government was halting the increases due to the “potentially significant but uncertain impact” of a discrimination court case brought by firefighters and judges, known as the McCloud case.

Prospect, which represents more than 30,000 professionals across the public sector, has written to MP Stephen Barclay, the chief secretary to the Treasury.

In the letter, Garry Graham, the union’s deputy general secretary, said: “We believe the lengthy ‘pause’ of the valuations is disproportionate, an abuse of power and may be unlawful.”

The union also noted that the Civil Service Scheme Advisory Board “has been very clear in its view that the current ‘pause’ should be lifted and that it would be inappropriate for scheme members to shoulder the cost of the governments failed legal action.”

Because of the pause to the valuations, the Cabinet Office introduced a temporary ‘rollover’ of contribution rates for 2019/20, with the intention to extend this for another year, Prospect stated.

Mr Graham added: “The minister must end the continued rollover of contributions, resume the valuation, and introduce the scheme advisory board’s recommendations on the ‘cost cap mechanism’.

“This issue unites all our members across government. The government paused the valuations when there was still uncertainty over [the] McCloud case but that uncertainty ended in July 2019 with the Supreme Court ruling. The continued ‘pause’ of the valuations is not justified and may be unlawful.”

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