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Fire Brigades Union
Update on
FBU – Pensions Update
Membership consultation
Intro 2012, - decision to take full and active part in the NPA
Review and the Opt Out review and,
Dependent on the outcomes and the government’s
responses, the FBU would then determine our next steps
Those two reviews have now concluded so we are now
at the critical stage of the campaign
FBU – Pensions Update
Membership consultation
EC met in February and agreed to:
• Immediately consult with members and initiate meetings
(Brigade / Branch / Mass / Open)
• We must have a consistent approach
• Lobbying MPs
• Head Office attending regions
• Speakers Notes/PowerPoint Presentation
• Circulars and bulletins
FBU – Pensions Update
Membership consultation
Going to cover 4 phases of campaign so far:
1. Where we have been
2. Where we are currently
3. What are we currently doing
4. What next
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
Initially coordinated with other unions (TUC)
• TUC agreed to go to scheme specific talks
FBU disagreed with this – very confident we had strong
arguments re FRS schemes
Key points
• Normal Pension Age (NPA)
• Increased employee contributions
Our position- the proposals were:
• Unsustainable, Unacceptable, Unworkable & Unfair
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
FBU campaign
Evidence based case
• Actuaries – experts in their field
• Medicine / Occ. health – Academics / Professors
Lobbied Politically
• provided MP’s briefings
• EDM 2049
Consulted consistently with Members via;
• Circulars
• Briefings / 8 special pension bulletins
• YouGov surveys
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
• High level talks – Fire Minister, CLG
– Some movement - but not enough
• Delay in setting the cost ceiling = increased by 5%
• 50% reduction in Year 1 contributions– this was
Government then agreed to:
• Detailed review of opt outs
• Data collection
• Face to face (Research Works) and Scottish
• This review – also unique
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
Other Unions are now in the Phase 2 stage of
their pension campaigns, the FBU are:
• Only beginning – big fight ahead
• We always knew our campaign would come to a
head in early 2013 when:
• Both reviews were due (NPA & Opt Out)
• Year 2 contribution Increase announced
• FBU Confident in our substantive evidence
produced and arguments made
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
NPA review:
• Proposed by the National Employers
• Review paid for by Government
• Fire Minister appointed NPA Chair - Dr Tony Williams
• FBU were Employees’ side rep
• James Dalgleish, (HR LFB) Employers side rep
FBU only organisation to submit evidence to NPA
Detailed evidence submitted.
N.B. Williams’ review – not ours
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
• Key that the NPA review took account of physical nature
of our occupation
• Terms of Reference - agreed by all
1. To consider if age 60 was an appropriate NPA
2. Reasonable expectation that scheme members
can work to, and retire at scheme’s proposed NPA
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
• Set up our own NPA working Group
• Researched all references to firefighter fitness and NPA
– UK and abroad
• Developed arguments – experts, civil servants, ministers
employers and politicians
• Throughout the full process No evidenced counter
FBU – Pensions Update
Where have we been
Tactics Utilised:
• Evidenced based arguments
• Already moved government
• Different approach to other unions
• Industrial Action alone has not worked
• Others have already settled
• Evidence to support any necessary action
• Done more than others
• Different timescale
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
Contribution Increases
• Opts out reviews finished
• Part 1 Opt Out ‘numbers’ – Government saying their
assumed 1% opt out figure is still correct
We believe low numbers due to:
• Members following FBU’s advice to to ‘stay in’ + the 50%
reduction on Year 1’s proposed increase
• Part 2 and Scottish questionnaire
• Research Works - Members attitudes:
• Figures show increase in opt outs are seriously being
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
Contribution increases
• To date, No indication of any reduction on Year 2
contribution increases
Assume Government position is:
2013 - Year 2
• full proposed amount (1.3% FPS and 0.8% NFPS)
• Higher tiers for higher earners
• Increases justified as ‘Opt Outs’ still within their own
predicted levels of 1%
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
FBU warn
• The number of opt outs wont raise savings sought
• Professional advice – if Opt Outs are as high as surveys
predict it will result in cash flow problems, deficits in the
• YouGov 2012 survey shows likely Opt Outs up from 27%
to 54% - Scottish Fire Service survey shows this figures
as high as 74%
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
NPA review report released in Jan 2013:
Broadly supports FBU position
Does not support NPA of 60
Suggests that it may be attainable for future
Based on untried, untested, uncosted ideas
Moves away from govt policy on localism
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
• FRS’s to provide advice to those recruited at 42VO2 recommended standard (NFST)- they will need to
improve their fitness, make lifestyle changes or they
wont reach NPA of 60
• Recommends option to retire from 55 - with actuarial
reduction from NPA – no further details given
• Additional protection for FPS – no further details given
• Review suggests 51% current firefighters between 50-54
below recommended fitness standard
• Review suggests 66% current firefighters between 55-59
below recommended fitness standard
FBU – Pensions Update
Review states:
• Significant numbers of firefighters would be unable to
maintain required fitness standard to age 60, as such:
1. Forced to leave without pension
2. Dismissed on capability
• Women disproportionately affected
Government trying to spin that:
• Firefighters are fitter than the general population – claim
made on limited evidence (4 out of 57 FRAs)
• Report acknowledges previous studies say firefighters
are no fitter than the general population
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
Report states:
• Stn Manager and above can maintain fitness until 60
• Flawed claim - based on acceptance of lower fitness
requirement for SM roles and above
• Majority of FRS’s use same fitness level for SM’s and
above as firefighters
• No agreed fitness standard for FF’s or S/M’s and above
• FRS employers are not seeking this change
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
Government spin relating to report
Best case scenario only:
• 15% of FF’s unfit by age 55 & 23% unfit at age 60
Figures are Flawed because:
• Based utilising the higher entry standard of 47 VO2
N.B. This is not the real situation
Using the current entry standard of 42 VO2 (NFST)
• 51% of FF’s unfit at age 50-54 & 66% at age 55-60
FBU – Pensions Update
Current position
• Significant numbers wont be able to maintain
required fitness level – leave without pension or
capability dismissal
• Women firefighters will be disproportionally
• Reverse 20+ years of progress on equality
within the FRS
FBU – Pensions Update
Where are we now
• Legislation – going through the process (HoC & HoL)
• FBU attempted for NPA clause amendment
• Asking for flexibility
• Went through commons - no vote, resisted all way
• Proposed in the Lords – moved by lord Kennedy
• Met Lord Newby – Bill sponsor from treasury (Lib Dem)
• Recognised arguments – no counter arguments
• Lords did not support
FBU – Pensions Update
What are we currently doing
• Raising concerns with ministers and others
• Considering possible legal challenges
• CLG – still considering government response
• Informed them their interpretation is flawed
• Letters to Fire Ministers, Scotland, NI and Wales
– Letter - Roseanna Cunningham to Brandon Lewis
FBU – Pensions Update
What are we currently doing
• No indication of any movement from government
• Fire Minister’s letter states:
• 60 is ‘attainable’ – not ‘appropriate’
Remembering the ToR of the NPA review stated:
• To consider if age 60 was an appropriate NPA
FBU – Pensions Update
Next steps
• Awaiting official government response to NPA review
• Awaiting official response Year 2 contributions
• Public Service Pensions Bill – is proceeding
Government may:
• Ignore all of our arguments & their own review and push
on with NPA and Contribution increases
• That position is unacceptable to us
FBU – Pensions Update
Next Steps
Our position on the ‘Proposed Scheme’ must be that it
• Affordable
• Sustainable
• Fair
NPA: must take account of the physical nature of
occupation & scheme members should reasonably
expect to work to and retire at NPA
Current proposals don't do this
FBU – Pensions Update
Next steps
Unacceptable because:
• Significant numbers of firefighters may have to leave
without access to a pension or face dismissal on
• Currently - 66% of 55-60 year olds below recommended
fitness standards
Evidenced by the FBU, Professionals and by their own
NPA Review findings
FBU – Pensions Update
Next steps
Conference decisions
2011Annual Conference - Continue negotiations, explore
all avenues, lobby, look at legal challenges – if campaign
is not successful prepare for national strike action
2012 Special Conference EC Policy Statement Pensions
• FBU made it clear to ministers we would initiate strike
action if not sufficient progress on negotiations or there
was imposition
• Conference supported taking full and active part in the
two reviews (NPA & Opt Out) prior to balloting
FBU – Pensions Update
Next steps
2013 Position – 2 reviews concluded – no indication of
government moving their position;
• Prepare to ballot for strike action
• Evidenced reasons why the current position is not
acceptable – our own and theirs
• FBU have utilised professionals – Professors,
Academics / experts in their field (Pensions / Medical)
• Their review – We can’t let them ignore its findings
FBU – Pensions Update
Next steps
2013 Position – doing nothing is not an option
• No scaremongering, no spinning, no false promises,
• Realistic expectations – massive fight ahead, FBU will
continue lobbying
• There are risks of division – protection offered / differing
• Bigger risk if don’t take action
• Crunch time – mass meetings needed prepare members
for a ballot for strike action
FBU – Pensions Update
FBU – Pensions Update