Police Scotland warned of staff exodus after pension changes

Police Scotland warned of staff exodus after pension changes

Police Scotland is reportedly facing a staff exodus after changes to pension lump sum rules led 1,800 staff to query the size of the figure they will receive under the new system, with 400 having already decided to leave the service.

As reported in both Police Oracle and the Daily Record, the change — which came into force on April 1 — saw a pension commutation cap removed from the Scottish police’s 1987 pension scheme. 

Under the previous system, officers with more than 25 years’ but less than 30 years’ service saw their lump sum restricted to 2.25 times their initial pension, but now the cap has been removed the lump sum will be “determined by reference to the actuarial tables”, according to a circular sent to members by the Scottish Police Federation in February.

Article continues after advert

The change was put to consultation in December last year and was confirmed when the consultation closed in February. 

A circular from the Scottish Public Pensions Agency in February explained: “These amendments remove the restriction in regulation B7 of the 1987 scheme, which applies to officers who retire with less than 30 years’ service and are aged below their relevant voluntary retirement age. 

“Voluntary retirement ages are set at age 55 for constables and sergeants, and 60 for superintendents and inspectors. Under the existing provisions, upon retirement this cohort of officers could only commute up to a maximum of 2.25 times their annual pension.

“These amendments remove this limit entirely, allowing all officers who are entitled to an ordinary pension to commute up to the maximum 25 per cent of their pension.”

Police Scotland will ‘flex resources’

According to the Daily Record, the improvement to the lump sum available to retiring officers can range from £100,000 to as much as £300,000 for all ranks up to chief superintendent. The Sunday Mail, meanwhile, reported that 1,800 officers — around 10 per cent of the force — had inquired about taking retirement and what their lump sum and salary would be.

The surge in interest has led to a six-week waiting list for officers looking to get their retirement figures, the Daily Record reported.

FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert, understands, however, that the precise figure for staff looking to leave the service as a result of the change to commutation rules is disputed. Although 1,800 staff are indeed expected to leave over the next year, the figure includes those who reach normal retirement age and who would have retired irrespective of the change.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The implications of the McCloud remedy and other pension issues are being assessed in full by Police Scotland. We keep retirement rates under close review and, as a single national service, are well able to flex resources and manage recruitment to maintain effective policing for the public we serve.”

England and Wales unaffected

The change itself only applies to the 1987 scheme in Scotland and not to officers in England and Wales. The Police Federation of England and Wales, which chose not to comment on this story, has nonetheless been campaigning for officers in the rest of the country to be extended the same benefit.