October 8, 2008

Councils and Ministers in Police and Fire Pensions Deal


A DEAL to inject an extra GBP40m into police and fire service pensions has been reached to cope with record retirement levels.

Local authorities will pay an extra GBP20m next year, a figure which will be matched by the Scottish Government.

A recruitment boom in the late-1970s and early1980s has led to hundreds of workers leaving the services each year.

More than 750 police officers are due to retire in 2009-10. Forces were facing a funding gap of around GBP100m over the next three years, as pensions took up a greater proportion of resources. In Strathclyde alone, pensions were taking up 20per cent of the force's total budget.

The government had already agreed to invest an extra GBP33m this year and GBP22m next year, with councils also paying an addi tional GBP37m, but that still left a GBP40m shortfall.

A reform of the pensions provision has also been agreed as part of the deal between the Scottish Government and local government body Cosla. In the future, forces will pay a fixed annual amount to pensions provision.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "As well as dealing with the exceptional pensions pressure we are facing next year, we have also agreed with Cosla how to address the longer-term pensions issues by reforming the management of police and fire pensions which will provide greater certainty for our police and fire boards."

Cosla president Pat Watters said: "Local government has already found significant resources to meet pensions pressures in 2008-09.

"Our commitment to find further resources next year demonstrates our resolve not only to recognise the needs of our employees but also how best we can fulfil our part of the concordat."

Future pensions spending, from 2010, will be based on a fixed proportion of the total salary costs rather than a fluctuating number based on retirals.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: "Whilst this is largely a housekeeping matter for government, the Scottish Police Federation welcomes it as a positive step towards the removal of the hitherto annual uncertainty over the effect of pensions when determining the annual budget."

Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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