Chairman's Blog

Previous Blog Entries

Aug 2015 - 2015 CARE Police Pension - How did we get here?

Aug 2015 - Police Pensions - "Sold down the river"?

Mar 2015 - Police Pensions - Some Facts

Dec 2014 - Taser

May 2014 - Home Secretary - Political "Shock & Awe"

October 2013 - Is the big question, are the IPCC fit for purpose?

August 2013 - Police Integrity

January 2013 - Police Pensions - Sold Down The River?

September 2012 - Taking Any Active Part in Politics!

July 2012 - Causual Overtime - Myth Buster

June 2012 - Best "Man" for the Job or a Piece of Ill-Judged Provocation?

20 April 2012 - Police Privatisation - A Threat to Policing by Consent - Myth or Reality?

Current Blog Entry

2015 CARE Police Pension - How did we get here?

Last week I published a blog in which I outlined what I thought would be the outcome should a claim for age discrimination be successful. The response was mostly predictable. However, if officers are going to accuse PFEW officials, Federation officials generally and me specifically of betrayal, cowardice and collaboration with the government, I thought it might be helpful to have a much better understanding of the facts, and to then see if those facts support those accusations.

May 2010 - We have a coalition government. It's a Conservative led government intent on cutting public expenditure, including "reform" of public sector pensions. It is the age of austerity.

Lord Hutton, a Labour peer, is appointed to report on public sector pension "reform". His report is adopted as government policy and receives cross party support. Public sector employees will have to work for longer, pay more for and receive less in their pensions. This will include both police pensions.

Autumn 2011 - In the face of widespread public sector strikes over pension "reforms", Danny Alexander MP (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) announces a 10 year pension protection for public sector workers. Those in the last 10 years of their employment won't see a change to their pension. At this point, we don't know if that will apply to police officers.

April 2012 - The Home Secretary releases her proposed reference scheme for police pensions for consultation. It includes a variation on the 10 year pension protection announced the previous autumn and police officers will have to work until they're 60 to get their pension. This is the start of a consultation process - pensions are not negotiable. In reality the Home Secretary can impose her reference scheme at the end of the consultation.

PFEW's starting position is a new scheme for new joiners. Is that achievable? In reality, it isn't as it is in direct conflict with government policy for public sector pensions - work for longer, pay more for and receive less in your pension.

PFEW, along with the other constituent parts of the Staff Side of the now abolished Police Negotiating Board (Superintendents' Association & Chief Police Officers' Staff Association) have a decision to make.

(1) Do they engage in the consultation process to try and improve the Home Secretary's reference scheme?


(2) Do they simply let the Home Secretary impose her reference scheme?

The easiest option would be to let the Home Secretary impose her reference scheme. The more difficult option is to engage in the process.

September 2012 - The Home Secretary announces the new pension scheme for police officers. It includes an improved system of full protection and a system of tapered protection. It also provides for an ability to retire at 55 (albeit on an actuarially reduced pension).

April 2015 - New CARE scheme comes into operation.

Now, based on these facts, let's examine the theory that PFEW officials sold their junior colleagues down the river to ensure their own pensions were protected. If true that would be truly awful, scandalous, but is there any evidence to support this theory?

If the 10 year pension protection had suddenly appeared at the end of the consultation process on the Home Secretary's reference scheme, then that would look suspicious; it would tend to support the "sold down the river" theory. However, the 10 year pension protection had already been announced 5 to 6 months before April 2012; before the Home Secretary announced her reference scheme; before the consultation started. Additionally, the 10 year pension protection was included by the Home Secretary in her original reference scheme.

So, just how did PFEW officials feather their own nests at the expense of their junior colleagues? The moment the Home Secretary announced her reference scheme they were already protected. They didn't have to do anything. They could have sat back, told the Home Secretary to introduce her reference scheme in the full knowledge they would be unaffected. It could be argued that by engaging in the consultation process, in seeking greater protections and a lower retirement age, they risked their own protection if the Home Secretary insisted on any changes to her reference scheme being cost neutral.

PFEW (as part of the Staff Side) was unable to protect everyone. They failed to achieve a new scheme for new joiners. They failed to achieve what was, in the prevailing economic and political climate, unachievable. To make police officers a special case then why not nurses, teachers, firefighters, doctors, etc.

The protections were extended and a system of tapered protection was applied.

A retirement age of 55 (albeit on an actuarially reduced CARE pension) was achieved for everyone.

Whilst it is easy and appealing rhetoric to accuse PFEW of selling junior colleagues down the river, there isn't a single scrap of evidence to support what is frankly an offensive accusation.

The second accusation is PFEW officials would have fought harder if they hadn't been protected. What does fought harder actually mean?

Perhaps industrial rights would have helped. Have public sector unions, with all their industrial rights, been successful over their members' pensions? How many nurses, teachers, etc. will be able to retire at 55 or will they be working until they're 67/68? How many teachers, nurses, etc. aren't paying more for longer to get less?

A work to rule could've been organised. Officers could've stopped volunteering. Beware an array of criminal offences that could be committed by such a campaign, criminal offences with prison sentences attached to them. When our Force sought volunteers to go to Northern Ireland, they had twice as many volunteers as they needed.

Maybe an advertising campaign would have garnered public support. Which sections of the public would've rallied to support police pensions? Public sector workers who were already subject to their own pension changes? Those in the private sector who have seen their pensions reduced to an annuity? Face facts, the public hasn't even rallied in opposition to budget cuts, cuts that directly impact on their local policing service.

Let me be clear on this too. PFEW has a network of representatives; the overwhelming majority perform this role on top of their already busy day jobs. Along with their full time colleagues it is PFEW who puts its head above the parapet when others duck for cover. They speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. They challenge the workplace bullies. They stand with accused officers when nobody else will. Some even get investigated for making a stand. Cowards they are not.

Finally, contrary to a belief in some quarters, I do have huge sympathy with officers who now have to work longer and pay more to get less. If it was me, I would be incandescent with rage. I would feel betrayed. I do get it. However, I'd make sure I directed that rage and sense of betrayal at the right people, and that isn't PFEW.

You have one group of people to blame for the changes to your pension - the Government. They are laughing as we tear ourselves apart with evidentially baseless accusations of betrayal, cowardice and collaboration. They can't believe their luck - they've done the deed and someone else is being blamed.

Ian Pointon

Ian Pointon
Kent Police Federation