Chief Executive's Blog: Updating members on our work on police pensions
It has been the enduring misfortune of this Federation over the past three years to find itself pursuing a complex campaign to retain our retirement age at 60 at the same time as we must deal with a Government focussed on Brexit, writes Nigel Dennis. Since we first approached Government in early 2016 we have engaged in correspondence with eight Government Ministers, met five of them and on two occasions held extended meetings with senior Departmental officials.
We have had numerous, answered parliamentary questions tabled by supportive MPs and an important Westminster Debate in March when Patricia Gibson's MP
(SNP) highlighted the Government's failure to address the impracticality of a retirement age of 67/68 being imposed on our firearms officers.
Then minister Richard Harrington was one of many MPs who resigned over Brexit - and was replaced by Andrew Stephenson in the then Prime Minister's reshuffle. It was his agreement to a meeting with the Federation, the CNC and the CNPA which led to the most recent meeting with officials. Our pension issue falls within the remit and approval of three Government.
Departments: BEIS is our sponsoring Department; Her Majesty's Treasury, holds the public purse strings and the Cabinet Office is responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the Public Service Pensions Act of 2013.
The failure to include, as exempt, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary as police (despite the clue being in the name!) has been the sole cause of our campaign taking up so much of our time and indeed Ministers' and officials' time in seeking a solution.
On 26 July, the last day of the Parliamentary term, CNC Chief Constable Mr Simon Chesterman, the Chairman of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and myself as Civil Nuclear Police Federation Chief Executive met with the Director of the BEIS Nuclear Directorate who chaired the meeting and officials from HMT and the Cabinet Office. The purpose of the meeting was to establish clarity on the complex obstacles to an NRA of 60.
The Federation shares the view of the official side that it was a "productive and constructive meeting." At the end of the meeting all parties had a clear, mutually shared understanding of the issues from each other's differing perspectives.
The next stage for progress, however, is overshadowed by three separate factors. The recent McCloud judgment is to be welcomed and the Employment Tribunal has been tasked by Government with devising the compensation remedy. Secondly, it may be necessary for an Act of Parliament rather than a change in statutory regulations to be introduced to retain our current pension age and lastly, and most frustratingly, Brexit continues to dominate this Government and the civil servants to the exclusion of more "routine" affairs of state.
The combination of these three elements means that it may be some time before Government, acting on the officials' advice from our meeting, is ready to recommend a way forward.
Despite this difficulty of securing the attention of Government the Federation has now written to congratulate on their appointments and to update the two new Ministers, Mr Nadhim Zahawi MP in BEIS, and the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and to Mr Oliver Dowden MP who, while promoted in the Cabinet Office, still retains a responsibility for public pensions. We will continue to press this new Ministerial team to put the NRA of 60 onto their more immediate agenda.
As matters stand it looks as if on -boarding to Alpha, if it happens, is unlikely before 2022.
Chairman - Mr. Mark Nelson
Chief Exec. - Mr. Nigel Dennis