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Members who were in the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) on 31st March 2012 will be aware that the pension scheme reforms made by the Government in 2015 discriminated against them, unlawfully, on the grounds of age.
The Government has promised to rectify that. It also intends to place all members in the Alpha Pension Scheme, regardless of their age, with effect from 1st April 2022. That is a proposal we will resist strenuously. But if the Government proceeds as it intends, anyone who was in the Scheme on 31st March 2012 will be given a choice, when they retire. They can have their service between the date they transitioned to Alpha and 31st March 2022 treated as membership of Alpha, or as membership of their former Section of the PCSPS.
The position of members who have retired since they were moved to Alpha gives cause for serious concern. In most if not all cases the reason for their retirement was ill-health. In many cases these members are receiving a pension based on the rules of Alpha, but they should already be receiving a higher pension based on the rules of the PCSPS. The Government has promised to rectify these cases, and pay arrears retrospectively, but says it may not be able to do so until October 2023.
This is completely unacceptable. Members who have already retired should be paid the correct pension and lump sum now. They should not have to wait another 15 months.
We have therefore issued another case, this time in the High Court, for a member whose lump sum was nearly £20,000 smaller than it should have been. We will fight this as a test case for all members who are in a similar position.
Our lawyers have advised us that there is no plausible defence to this claim. Under the Court’s rules of procedure, it should be possible to have the case dealt with swiftly using a process called making an application for summary judgment.
If the Government will not then apply the same outcome to all members who are in the same position, we will carry on issuing further claims until they do.
I will keep you informed of our progress.
Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.