Since 2012 the POA have been very clear that we did not agree with any of the changes to Civil Service Pensions schemes and indeed the POA membership endorsed the NEC position by way of a ballot that was conducted at that time. Since then, we have challenged and made the case to Government Officials on why our members are so opposed to the changes. Some of our legal challenges have also been successful.

The POA have joined forces as an interested party with FBU, PCS, UNITE, GMB, and RCN as indicated in previous POA Circulars 015/20, Circular 072/20 and Circular 074/20. The legal challenge is on Pension Contributions Cost Cap. The BMA also have an overlap case and both cases will be heard together.

The High Court this week gave permission for the challenge to go ahead by way of Judicial Review in November 2022. It is anticipated that it will be a 5-day hearing this was following the age discrimination found proven in earlier proceedings at the Court of Appeal.

New public service pension schemes were introduced by the coalition government in April 2015 which in most cases were substantially worse than the pension schemes that preceded them. The way the new schemes were introduced was found to be discriminatory in court proceedings in 2020, and the changes have had to be reversed for the period between 2015 and 2022. The government estimates the cost of this to be £17 billion.

The government reaction was to shift the costs to the members of the new post 2015 public service pension schemes for public servants. This would mean that the cost of remedying the government’s discrimination against members of the pre 2015 schemes would be met by many of the same members in a completely unfair way.

All public service pension schemes were valued in 2019. It turned out that the schemes were substantially cheaper than envisaged by the 2015 reforms. The legislation that came into force in 2015 required these savings to be passed on to 2015 scheme members by reducing their contributions, improving their benefits or a combination of both. Instead, the government’s proposals would mean the savings are used up to meet the bill for the government’s discrimination. The POA and other Unions totally disagree and in the case of the Civil Service scheme the POA believe the contribution rate from 2019 valuation should have been reduced by 2% for those in the Civil Service pension scheme. 

At present the POA is the only Trade Union in HMPPS who are mounting this legal challenge to get pension justice for our members. All legal challenges can be potentially costly, but the NEC believe along with other unions in the public sector we can win this challenge. I will keep you updated in relation to progress on this legal challenge.

Please bring this Circular to the attention of your members as we believe they are paying to much in pension contributions and that the government are wrong in not abiding with the 2019 valuations of the schemes.


Yours sincerely

General Secretary


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.