As members will be aware from various circulars issued during the last month, the MoD has now made set out its offer regarding officers’ pensions to the Federation.
In summary, the MoD has offered us an Effective Pension Age of 65 – meaning a retirement age of three years below the State Pension Age. However, the MoD has refused to allow officers an Enhanced Effective Pension Age that would have set the basic retirement age at 65 years, but would have allowed officers to retire at 60 if they made additional pension contributions to cover the cost.
The rationale conveyed to us is that setting an Enhanced Effective Pension Age for the MDP would have also set a precedent for workforces across the public sector that are challenging other government departments over their pension and retirement arrangements. We have been given every indication that this decision has been made following significant pressure on the MoD by other departments – notably the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury.
The DPF’s position is that this offer is not suitable for MDP officers given the physical demands of our work. We are immensely disappointed at the MoD’s decision; its refusal to adopt a solution that would have minimised any costs to the public purse; its refusal to adopt a solution that it had the legislative power to implement; and, of course, the unacceptable length of time it has taken for this offer to be made.
The focus of the Federation’s work during the past month has been endeavouring to compel the MoD to reveal its position on members’ pensions and then responding to the offer once it had been made. Further details of this activity are set out below.
Outside of the pensions issue, Parliament has now officially dissolved for the General Election campaign, with the civil service entering a state of purdah. During this period, which will last until polling day on 7 May, civil service activity will be minimal so as to avoid any action that might be construed as party political.
In the last month the Conservatives have also continued to face substantial questioning over the Party’s commitment to future defence funding. Numerous high profile defence figures and retired senior officers have spoken and written publicly of the need to maintain or increase defence spending – although senior Tories, including Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, have resisted making a formal commitment to maintaining defence spending at the NATO target of two percent of GDP.
The political approach
Our efforts over the past month, as noted above, have been two fold. Firstly, we have endeavoured to get the MoD to inform us of its pensions offer. Secondly, we have responded to that offer and communicated the Federation’s dissatisfaction to parliamentary supporters.
From the outset, we would like to make clear to members that while the MoD’s offer is unsatisfactory and made just days before the dissolution of Parliament, the Federation does not in any way consider the matter resolved. We will be continuing to engage with officials – and with the new government once it is formed – on the subject, in addition to discussing other issues such as Terms and Conditions of Service (TACOS).
We have been in continual communication with parliamentary supporters during the last month – numerous of whom have written to the Minister and Secretary of State. These include Shadow Defence Minister Gemma Doyle, Defence Select Committee member Sir Bob Russell, Alan Reid, John McDonnell and David Anderson.
Gemma Doyle has also issued the following comment regarding the MoD’s delays and eventual offer.
“Negotiations have been ongoing regarding the National Pension Age for both organisations for almost two years, leaving officers uncertain about their future arrangements and yet the Ministry of Defence decided to rush out a decision one week before the end of Parliament.
“We have been working with representatives from both organisations throughout the negotiations period, and if elected, we are committed to working with them in the future. Immediately following the election we will convene an emergency meeting with the Defence Police Federation and representatives from the Defence Fire and Rescue Service to discuss how best to move forwards.”
We additionally, as part of efforts to compel the MoD to announce its offer, secured the support of Defence Select Committee members Madeline Moon, Sir Bob Russell and Dr Julian Lewis – along with Alan Reid – in co-signing a letter warning the Government was letting MDP officers down through continued delays to resolving the pensions issue.
Alongside our continued briefing of parliamentarians, we have continued to brief national defence correspondents – both on the issue of pensions and on the risks of any further cuts to the MDP.
As noted above, we secured the support of three members of the Defence Select Committee and Alan Reid MP, who co-signed a letter that appeared in the Daily Telegraph. This letter called for the MoD to reveal its pensions offer to the Federation, and was helpful in encouraging ministers to act following two years of delays and obfuscation.
The letter can be accessed via the following link:
We are continuing to brief journalists on the pensions issue, and are working to secure additional opportunities to highlight the Federation’s concerns in the media.
National Chairman Eamon Keating has also provided comment for Police Oracle on the potential joint capability of the MDP, CNC and British Transport Police. The article can be accessed via the following link:
As members will be aware, parliament has now been formally dissolved for the General Election campaign. We will be advising members how, should they wish to do so, they can contact their MP following polling day on 7 May.
As noted above, the Federation will be continuing to engage with the MoD on the subject of pensions, and with parliamentarians following the General Election on 7 May.
We will also be engaging with parliamentarians, the MoD and wider government on issues including officers’ Terms and Conditions of Service and the expected Spending Review that will follow the General Election. We are of course also alert to the Strategic Defence and Security Review that will take place later this year, and the need to emphasise the importance of the MDP’s role.