Below is important information about the NHS Pension Review Consultation Process. It is important that Amicus workplace reps and stewards circulate the Information.
The NHS Pensions Review body will be publishing a consultation document on 10 January 2005 on proposals for changes in the NHS Pension Scheme. Responses can be made up until 11 April to the Review body but the deadline for Amicus groups/members to submit comments to influence the Amicus official response will be 11 March. The Review body will consider all responses and submit a report in the spring to the Health Minister. There will be a parallel consultation exercise in Scotland and N.Ireland, essentially on the same proposals.
All NHS employees should receive in January a four-page letter giving information about the Review. The letter will refer to a short version of the consultation document (15 pages) and the full Consultation Document (60 pages) which may be available from employers but will be on the NHS Employers website (www.nhsemployers.org ).
NHS Employers are staging at least 9 Regional Conferences throughout England & Wales during January to launch the Consultation to which staff reps may be able to obtain admission by approaching their employer. Established dates are 11th Portsmouth, 13th Huntingdon, 14th London, 19th Bristol, 21st Cardiff, and 24th Birmingham. 28th Manchester, 31st Leeds but more may be provided if there is a demand. We would expect employers to provide paid day-release for these events.
What is the Consultation Document going to say?
Proposals have been influenced by the Government’s insistence that a higher retirement age of 65 for NHS employees be introduced over a period of time and by an unwillingness to accept any increase in employer contributions to the Scheme. Savings derived from later retirement have allowed some benefit improvements to be offered. While staff-side participation in the Review has had a big influence on the detail of the proposals, the overall outcome has been shaped by these Government parameters. The Consultation makes many detailed proposals, which include: -
- New employees after April 2006 will join a ‘New Scheme’ with a retirement age of 65 but with some improved benefits e.g. pension will accrue/build-up at a higher rate, dependants pensions will be provided for unmarried partners, retirement will be more flexible.
- Existing employees can remain in the Current Scheme with a pension age as now until 2013 but with some minor changes e.g. flexibility to take more lump sum at retirement (with a reduced pension).
- A suggestion, to which the Government has not agreed, that the retirement age increase be introduced at a slightly later date than 2013 for the majority of staff and not at all for those in the special classes.
- An opportunity, probably in 2007, for staff to opt for the New Scheme provided they transfer their past service.
- In 2013, or when the higher pension age was applied, staff would receive some limited compensating benefit improvements either by being transferred to the New Scheme for their future service or by the terms of the Current Scheme being revised .
The Review also seeks views on some other issues such as revised AVC/added years arrangements, whether in the New Scheme pension should be based on ‘final salary’ or on a CARE (career average revalued earnings) basis of equivalent overall value, and whether the Scheme should allow membership to people doing NHS work but not employed by an NHS employer.
The Amicus response
Amicus will be preparing a detailed response, which will be approved by the Health Sector National Committee.
On the key retirement age issue we will be maintaining our campaign of opposition both at a national level and through encouraging members to lobby their MP’s locally.
A further key priority will be to support the extension of eligibility to the scheme to allow health members whose employment is contracted-out of the NHS but whose work is still in it to remain full members of the Scheme.
A range of campaign materials will be available.
Note: Please do not forward queries on the detail of the Review in advance of the publication of the consultation documents.