FBU has warned that plans to force firefighters in England to pay more for their pensions could backfire, as younger firefighters opt out of the scheme rather than pay increased rates of up to 13.5%

Tim Lezard

FBU London #0ct20The Fire Brigades Union has condemned central government for attempting to “sneak out” news of further increases in firefighters’ pension contributions on the last day of the parliamentary session.

(Pictured: FBU members on #Oct20 anti-austerity protest. London, October 2012)

It follows months of negotiations between FBU officials and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The FBU had warned that plans – first announced in the Chancellor’s 2012 Comprehensive Spending Review – to force firefighters in England to pay more for their pensions could backfire, as younger firefighters opted out of the scheme rather than pay the higher rates.

Officials say firefighters already pay some of the highest pension contribution rates in the public or private sector.

The increases, which were announced yesterday without comment in a statement on the Department’s website, mean an experienced firefighter will pay 12.9% of their salary towards the pension, with another hike expected next year.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “Firefighters will be angry and disappointed at this announcement.

“We will now be discussing with our members our response to these increases and to the government’s ridiculous proposals for forcing firefighters to work longer and longer.

“We have presented a huge amount of evidence to government about all pension matters where they have proposed change.

“The government is ignoring all the evidence about the risk of making the pension unaffordable. They are ignoring their own evidence of firefighters opting out. They are pressing ahead with ill-thought out changes.”

The FBU calculates that the pension increases mean officers such as station managers will pay 13.5% of their salary into the pension scheme.

Younger and retained firefighters in the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme will pay 9.6% from next month – with the prospect of 13.2% from 2015.

Separate negotiations have been taking place in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland over the future of firefighters’ pensions. The FBU has accused Coalition ministers of attempting to undermine and destroy pensions in the fire service across the UK.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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