Looks at the changes to the normal pension age as part of the Coalition Government's reforms to public service pensionsJump to full report >>
The last Labour Government introduced reforms to public service pension schemes, with the aim of improving financial sustainability and reflecting changes in life expectancy, working practices and the private sector. They included increases in the pension age, mostly for new entrants.
After the 2010 election, the Coalition Government set up the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission, chaired by former Labour Work and Pensions Secretary, Lord Hutton of Furness, to conduct a review of public service pensions.
In its interim report in October 2010, the Commission said reforms to date had not gone far enough in responding to demographic change and did not significantly reduce current costs to taxpayers.
The Commission’s final report in March 2011 recommended replacing the existing public service pension schemes with new ones by 2015. In most of these new schemes, members’ normal pension age in the new schemes would be linked to their State Pension age (SPA). It said this link should be regularly reviewed, to make sure it is still appropriate, with a preference for keeping the two pension ages linked. For the uniformed services, the Commission recommended a normal pension age of 60, to be kept under review.
The Government accepted the Commission’s recommendations as the basis for negotiation with the trade unions. It announced final proposed agreements for reform of most public service schemes over the period March to October 2012. It then legislated in the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 for a framework for the new schemes to be introduced for future service from 2015 (2014 for local government). Section 10 provided for normal pension age linked to the State Pension age, except for the schemes for firefighters, police and armed forces, which are to have a normal pension age of 60. There was protection for accrued rights and transitional protection arrangements to enable those ‘closest to retirement’ to remain in their existing schemes either until retirement, or for a limited period, depending on their date of birth.
The link to the State Pension age caused widespread concern among public sector unions, some of whom launched a ‘68 is too late’ campaign. An area of particular debate was the impact on certain groups – such as paramedics, prison officers and MoD police and firefighters – given the demands of those roles.
There has also been disquiet about the impact of a pension age of 60 on some in the ‘uniformed services.’ The Fire Brigades Union has been campaigning for improved protection – particularly in England - for those firefighters unable to meet the demands of the role to age 60 but who do not qualify for an ill-health pension. For more information, see Library Briefing Paper CBP 6585 Firefighters pension schemes – 2015 reforms
This note looks at changes to the pension age introduced by the Coalition Government. For an overview of its public service pension reforms more widely, see CBP-05768. For more on the background, see SN 2209 Public service pension age – the Labour Government’s reforms.
Commons Briefing papers SN06581
Author: Djuna Thurley