Pension Update -18th May 2020
In the last few days you may have heard that the Police Federations of both Scotland and England/Wales have indicated that they are intending to take legal action on behalf of their eligible members who were victims of discrimination and suffered any ‘injury to feeling’ as a result of the changes to their respective pensions by the introduction of the 2015 CARE pension scheme. Alongside our sister Federations it is envisaged that the Police Federation for Northern Ireland will also be in a position to shortly launch a similar legal action in Northern Ireland.
To be clear the Northern Ireland position is not at the same stage as the rest of the United Kingdom. The local Employment Tribunal case management discussions have been adjourned pending the outcome of the related proceedings in London. The London case management discussions have themselves been delayed until November 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK Government has previously indicated it will remedy the pension discrimination suffered right across the public sector. As pensions are a devolved matter, the Northern Ireland Government has not yet been so forthcoming. The closest we have seen to date was the Department of Finance Minister’s response on the 16th March 2020 to a related question in the Northern Ireland Assembly:
“There is a clear need to address age discrimination in devolved public service pension schemes as a consequence of the McCloud ruling. This is supported by legal advice. This is a complex issue, as some members of the devolved public service pension schemes will have been better off in the old schemes, and some better off in the new schemes. The solution must ensure members can keep their accrued rights, whilst also removing discrimination for the future.”
PFNI have consistently said on the issue of pensions that we would closely monitor any decisions made by national and local Government and consider litigation if and when this was necessary. Following the recent pension technical discussions, and the abovementioned Department of Finance Minister’s response, it is reasonable to anticipate that a remedy will also be applied to public sector pension schemes in Northern Ireland too. This still leaves the question of potential compensation for those affected, and unfortunately neither Government has been willing to be drawn on this issue.
Having reviewed our position and consulted our legal representatives, PFNI have decided to ensure affected members are treated fairly and we will be instructing our legal representatives to pursue a claim. PFNI Voluntary Fund subscribing members will shortly be invited to complete an online Legal Assistance Form and a related questionnaire. Our legal representatives will then progress the claims upon receipt of this information.
I will ensure an update, full details of eligibility and a Frequently Asked Questions document will be provided in the near future.
Liam Kelly, PFNI Secretary