21 December 2022

FPS Bulletin 64 - December 2022 was published on 21 December. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including details of a central IQMP list, a new web page for retrospective remedy and the publication of HM Treasury remedy Directions.

30 November 2022

FPS Bulletin 63 - November 2022 was published on 30 November. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including details on factsheet which sets out the cohorts of membership who will require an ill-health reassessment in respect of age discrimination remedy, an update on the injury to feelings Employment Tribunal as well detail on the SAB levy.

31 October 2022

FPS Bulletin 62 - October 2022 was published on 31 October. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including updates on Matthew's FPS member website material, Matthew's template letters as well as a request for information on the IQMPs the sector uses.

30 September 2022

FPS Bulletin 61 - September 2022 was published on 30 September. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including updated immediate detriment framework guidance, member communications regarding eligibility for age discrimination remedy and information about the effect that taking strike action has on an individual’s pension.

30 August 2022

FPS Bulletin 60 - August 2022 was published on 30 August. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including age discrimination eligibility, electric vehicle salary sacrifice and updated abatement guidance. We are also pleased to share our draft response to the PDP consultation on dashboard standards.

29 July 2022

FPS Bulletin 59 - July 2022 was published on 29 July. 

This month’s bumper issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including the administrator self-assessment results, corrective action needed for FPS 2006 special members as well as data sharing guidance for age the discrimination remedy exercise.

19 July 2022

We have submitted our response to the DWP Pensions dashboards: further consultation which sets out two proposals. The first proposal provides clarity on the ‘Dashboard Available Point’ (DAP). The second proposal allows the Money and Pensions Service and the Pensions Regulator to share information about dashboards with each other.

You can find a copy our response on the consultations page, as well as details of two further consultations/ call for inputs launched by the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) today.

The first is a consultation on standards, specifications, and technical requirements. The purpose of the standards is to ensure the security, stability and effective operation of dashboards. The second is a call for input on dashboard design standards. The call for input will be followed by a six week consultation once responses have been reviewed. Both run from 19 July 2022 to 30 August 2022.

15 July 2022

On 14 July 2022, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published its consultation response on the draft Pensions Dashboards Regulations 2022 and a summary of the key policy changes.

We are pleased to note that the staging deadline for all public service schemes has been extended by five months from 30 April 2024 to 30 September 2024, and further, that the requirement to provide value data has been pushed back to 1 April 2025 at the latest, and will only be earlier where a Remediable Service Statement has been issued.

30 June 2022

FPS Bulletin 58 - June 2022 was published on 30 June. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including immediate detriment framework costing and assumption guidance, an annual benefit statement 2022 information factsheet and a lessons learned document in relation to the first special members' options exercise.

31 May 2022

FPS Bulletin 57 - May 2022 was published on 31 May. 

This month’s issue contains information on a variety of topical issues including the application of the ill health ‘underpin’, informal guidance on abatement, and annual benefit statement production for 2022.

4 May 2022

FPS Bulletin 56 - April 2022 was published on 29 April. 

This month’s issue contains information about a data request for special members’ second options exercise, information on a payroll workshop that we’ll be hosting, a request from FRAs to provide us with up to date contact information and a reminder to save the date for the FPS AGM.

11 April 2022

Friday 1 April 2022 saw the first major milestone in age discrimination remedy (McCloud/ Sargeant or the 2015 Remedy) for the Firefighters' Pension Schemes, with the two final salary schemes being closed to future pension build-up and all members building up benefits in the reformed CARE scheme from that point.

To coincide with this and to provide members with a better understanding of the implications of remedy on their benefits, the Firefighters' Pensions (England) Scheme Advisory Board worked with Barnett Waddingham to produce a suite of illustrative member scenarios.

The illustrations are based on different scheme memberships, scenarios and salary profiles, with benefits shown at a range of key retirement milestones.

The member benefit illustrations follow the "Your questions answered" fact checker produced in February 2022 which aims to answer some recurring questions that members have about the 2015 Remedy.

4 April 2022

FPS Bulletin 55 - March 2022 was published on 31 March. 

This month’s bumper issue contains information about the special members’ second options exercise, updates on age discrimination remedy, and a reminder about submission of accounting data for the top-up grant. FRAs should note the Home Office deadline of 13 May for providing this information.

16 March 2022

Following HM Treasury's publication of Amending Directions in October 2021, the Home Office has finalised their 2016 valuations for the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme providing certainty on the outcome to scheme members.

On 16 March 2022, the final outcome of the cost-control element of the 2016 valuation for the Firefighters' Pension Scheme in England was published, confirming a breach to the cost cap ceiling of 14.6%.

This process had previously been paused following the uncertainty arising from the McCloud and Sargeant judgments and was ‘un-paused’ in 2020.

The report confirms that the cost control element 2016 valuation is not used to set the employer contribution rate and changes to the employer contribution rates resulting from the 2020 valuations will take effect from April 2024.

The government in 2021 announced proposed reforms to the Cost Control Mechanism which will be implemented in time for the 2020 valuations. These reforms do not affect the 2016 valuations as the government previously decided that it would be inappropriate to reduce member benefits based on a mechanism that may not be working as intended.

The government therefore announced that any ceiling breaches found when schemes complete the 2016 valuations will be waived. This means that no member will face a reduction in their benefits as a result of the 2016 valuation. 

Unions across the public sector last year launched a judicial review against the government about including McCloud/ Sargeant remedy costs in the cost control mechanism. The FBU, GMB, and BMA argue that the cost of rectifying the discrimination should not be met by scheme members. The provisional results of the 2016 cost cap valuation showed that all public service schemes were cheaper than expected. This would have led to a reduction in contributions or improvements in benefits from April 2019 had the cost control process not been paused.

15 March 2022

Readers may be aware of the category of members of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 2006 (FPS 2006) known as “special members” who were introduced in 2014, following Matthews v Kent and Medway Towns Fire Authority & others, which allowed retained firefighters employed between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 to join the FPS 2006 with retrospective effect to 1 July 2000.

A time-limited options exercise took place between 2014 and 2015 to allow eligible individuals to join the FPS. While the benefits awarded to special members largely mirrored the benefits under the FPS 1992, the FPS 2006 was amended as the FPS 1992 was closed.

More recently, work has again had to take place on the pensions aspect of "Matthews", following the European Court of Justice’s decision in O’Brien v Ministry of Justice concerning fee paid judges in the Judicial Pension Scheme. The judgment held that remedy could extend back before the Part-time Workers Directive was required to be implemented on 7 April 2000. 

On 9 March 2022, after an extended period of negotiations, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was agreed between the government, the Fire Brigades Union, the Fire & Rescue Services Association, and FRA employers.

Remedy for retained firefighters affected by the O’Brien judgment will be provided by way of a second options exercise allowing in-scope individuals the opportunity to purchase pension entitlement as a special member of the FPS 2006. More details on the scope and mechanics of the settlement are available in our summary of "Matthews" MoU and second options exercise factsheet.

14 March 2022

On 11 March 2022, the LGA submitted its response to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation on the draft Pensions Dashboards Regulations 2022 in respect of the Firefighters' Pension Schemes.

Pensions Dashboards will allow individuals to see information about all their pensions, including the State Pension, in one place. These draft regulations set the requirements to be met to deliver this and will place a legal duty on pension providers to provide information to the dashboards. The consultation proposes a staging deadline of the end of April 2024 for public service pension schemes, including the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme. This means that Fire scheme administrators will need to be able to connect to the digital architecture by this date and be ready to provide individuals’ data to them via the dashboards.

While we are supportive of the dashboards and their purpose, there are strong concerns over the proposed staging schedule given the conflicting pressures faced by administrators and the data that will be available at that time. In our response to the DWP consultation we have therefore asked for the staging date to be delayed a further 12 months until April 2025.

8 March 2022

The Home Office has today published its consultation response on prospective remedy, along with a frequently asked questions document.

The consultation response confirms the amendments which are to be made to the pension scheme regulations which will deliver the first set of changes and remove the transitional protections from the FPS 2015. In addition, it also confirms provisions for an ill health underpin which will ensure that a protected member who applies for ill health retirement before 31 March 2022, and which is determined in their favour after that date, is treated no less favourably than if the application had been determined on that date. The response also makes provisions to allow arrangements for members who are purchasing service in the legacy schemes by way of periodical contributions, entered before 1 April 2022, to continue on after that date.

These changes enact the policy announced in February 2021 and are consequential to the provisions in the Public Service Pensions & Judicial Offices Bill currently before Parliament. Subject to parliamentary approval and the receival of Royal Assent, the changes will come into force on 1 April 2022.

This is part of the package of measures that the government is undertaking to remove the discrimination identified by the courts in the McCloud and Sargeant cases. The second phase will address the issue of giving members a retrospective choice of benefits for the remedy period. The Home Office will consult on this separately later this year.  

3 March 2022

FPS Bulletin 54 - February 2022 was published on 28 February. 

This issue includes several articles on age discrimination remedy, essential preparations for 1 April 2022 as well as an update on abatement.

4 February 2022

FPS Bulletin 53 - January 2022 was published on 31 January.

The first issue of the new year includes several articles on age discrimination remedy and requests for information that are coming soon, and details of an exciting opportunity to join the LGA team!

You can also find information about the consultation on draft regulations for Pensions Dashboards that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched with a closing date of 13 March 2022.