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Pension Commutation Campaign
Pension Commutation Campaign
posted on website -- Jan 24, 2015 --
Below is an interesting article from Bill Hurley ,a retired colleague from Strathclyde, who is actively involved in the campaign for increased, and backdated, commutation payments for those who retired between 2001 an 2006.
IMPORTANT IF YOU RETIRED BETWEEN 2001 AND 2006 - READ THIS.
In April 2008 the fire service announced that after reviewing the commutation factors for the fire service pension scheme (FPS) that new factors would be used meaning higher commutation payments for retiring firefighters. They further announced that these new factors would be backdated to October 2007, and that 5% interest per annum would be added to any back payments.
The Police Federation (PF) and the FBU made complaints about this announcement.
The PF argued via judicial review that the payments should have been backdated to when the new tables were formulated.
The FBU argued that as no review had been conducted since 1998, that maladministration had occurred. This was a far more complicated complaint, which if not settled between the FBU and the body for carrying out the reviews, the Government Actuary Department (GAD), would require the services of the Pension Ombudsman (PO).
In 2009 the PF won their case against GAD. This decision was not appealed against by the government. This meant that as the Fire service commutation tables were formulated in August 2006, that back payments were then backdated to that date. For the Police their tables were backdated to December 2006.
The FBU case for maladministration was finally handled over to the PO after negotiations had failed between the FBU and GAD.
In may 2010 it was decided that 8 test cases would be used by GAD to determine the outcome of their investigation.
GAD put forward three points in their defence -
GAD submitted that the complaint was submitted too late and should be time barred.
GAD submitted that they were not responsible for the administration of the FPS.
GAD submitted that if they were responsible for the administration, that that would only apply from 6 April 2005 onwards.
All three points were dismissed by the PO, they stated that "this member had made a complaint that is within jurisdiction and potentially has substance"
Then GAD changed their tactics.
They then questioned the remit of the PO, as to their right to look into this case. This led to a court case which GAD lost, and then it went to the appeal court where again GAD lost.
GAD then asked for leave to appeal to the House of Lords, but that was not granted and the case was finished between the PO and GAD.
This whole process took over two years, during which time the PO had to put their investigation on hold.
In August 2013 the PO continued with their investigation. In October 2013 they estimated that they would hand down their final decision early 2014.
But GAD began to mount a strong legal fight, employing a large legal team. The PO soon found that their estimate for concluding their investigation was far too confident.
The latest position is that they expect the final decision this spring 2015.
The POs decision cannot be appealed other than a point of law. This would not affect the overall final decision, but only the part that pertained to the point of law in question.
The last revision of the FPS took place in 1998, and it is the statutory duty of GAD to ensure that regular revisions are carried out. It is generally agreed that revisions should have been carried out every three years, as they are now currently being done. This would mean that revision should have been done 2001 and 2004, undoubtably meaning higher commutation payments for members retiring between 2001 and August 2006, when they were backdated to, after the PF won their judicial review.
I have had several discussions with both the PO, and Sean Starbuck, the FBU official dealing with this case.
I don't want to make any promises, or build up any false hope, but the signs are looking good.
To keep up with developments go to http://www.uk-fire.net/ I started a thread there in September 2012. you will find it in the retirement section.
If you register on the UK fire forum you will be able to not only read through the history of this dispute, but I and others will answer your questions.
Also go to the Pension Ombudsman site where they make updates.
If we win this case it will mean payments running into tens of thousands of pounds for each of us, there is a lot at stake here.