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Firefighters to take government to court over pensions

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has issued a formal letter before claim for Judicial Review proceedings against the government regarding age discrimination in pensions.

The courts had previously found that the government’s public sector pension reforms discriminated against firefighters based upon their ages on 1 April 2012.

The FBU pointed to the McCloud judgement which found that the government had unlawfully treated existing public sector workers differently based upon each member’s age. Older workers had been allowed to stay on a previous, pension scheme whilst younger workers had been required to leave it and join the new 2015 scheme.

The government has said that it will try to impose the cost of the discrimination onto those who are now on that 2015 pension scheme – a large number of whom will have been those who were discriminated against.

The FBU said the government is trying to make these firefighters pay via a scheme in their pensions called ‘cost control’.

Cost control adjusts pension contributions or benefits if the actual cost of the pension scheme diverges from the target cost of the pension scheme by 2% or more, with firefighters losing out if the actual cost is higher.

It was the government who introduced the cost control mechanism into the new pension scheme. The mechanism provided that savings from the new scheme should be passed on to those scheme members. The FBU said the government now wish to ignore the legislation that made that provision.

Mark Rowe, FBU national officer, said: “It is unbelievable that the government is trying to make firefighters pay for their own discrimination, and unbelievable that it is forcing firefighters to come back to the courts time and time again to try and win pension justice.

“The government needs to get a grip, recognise its mistakes, recognise the highly valuable contribution that firefighters make every day, and sort out firefighter pensions in a timely and straightforward manner. Six years after the relevant pension reforms came in the government is still in a mess over this.”

The Treasury and secretary of state have been asked to provide a response by 19 November 2021.

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