UNISON works to defend good pension schemes and improve and promote affordable, decent pensions for all our members, wherever you work.
If you have a pension question/problem please e-mail UNISON’s Pensions Unit for Members at Pensionsqueriesformembers@unison.co.uk quoting your UNISON membership number and copying in your local UNISON Branch.
DHSC responds on it’s member contribution proposals and delays changes until the 1 October 2022
(For members in England and Wales)
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published it’s response to it’s consultation on introducing a new member contribution structure and has delayed implementing the first phase of this until the 1 October 2022.
You can view DHSC’s response at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/nhs-pension-scheme-proposed-changes-to-member-contributions/outcome/nhs-pension-scheme-proposed-changes-to-member-contributions-consultation-response#conclusion.
UNISON responds to DHSC consultation on new proposed member contribution rates for the NHSPS
(For members in England and Wales)
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have consulted on a new contribution structure and rates to potentially apply from the 1 April 2022, which if implemented could lead to many of our full-time members in particular paying more.
You can view the UNISON submission under Resources at the bottom of this screen.
UK State Pension and public service pensions up 10.1% from April 2023
The state pension and public service pensions in payment were increased by 10.1% from April 2023. Retired members should now be receiving higher pensions that better reflect the increased cost of living.
The 10.1% figure was the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation figure for September 2022.
Under the government’s triple lock either CPI, average earnings or 2.5% is used to uprate the state pension. The triple lock means the government uses the highest figure, and this was CPI this year. Note that in 2022 the government chose not to implement the triple local and used CPI when it was lower than average earnings increases. This April the government did not tinker with the triple lock but it is still under threat in the future and is likely to reviewed after April 2024.
UNISON supports the triple lock as it protects the value of the state pension for current pensioners and is essential for younger generations to ensure the state pension retains its relative value for the future. Please see our briefing in Resources which sets out the background to State Pension increases and why we need to at least keep the Triple Lock to protect future generations as well as current pensioners.
The full flat rate state pension is now £203.85 per week.
Those who had a significant amount of benefit entitlement in a workplace pension like the LGPS or NHSPS at April 2016 did not qualify immediately for the full flat rate state pension. If they are paying national insurance contributions and they have enough years before state pension age they will qualify for full flat rate state pension once they have accrued 35 qualifying years.
Those who reached state pension age before April 2016 get the Basic State Pension. This also went up by 10.1% in April.
Please note that if you are retired and have now reached your state pension age and you were in a workplace pension scheme like the LGPS or NHSPS part of your pension increase payable from your workplace pension may be payable as an increase to your state pension.
The full flat rate basic state pension is now £156.20 per week.
For more information on state pension:-
The CPI is also used in the formula to revalue the Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) sections of workplace pensions like the LGPS and the NHSPS that came into force for service after April 2015 (or April 2014 in the LGPS in England and Wales). So, at April 2023 the CARE accounts for active members went up by 10.1% for the LGPS and 11.6% for the NHSPS.
UNISON responds to separate HM Treasury Cost Cap mechanism and SCAPE discount rate consultations
A warning that these are pretty technical but nonetheless are very relevant for members of public service pension schemes and you can view the UNISON responses under resources at the bottom of this screen.
You can view the Cost Cap consultation document at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/public-service-pensions-cost-control-mechanism-consultation
And the SCAPE Discount Rate one at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/public-service-pensions-consultation-on-the-discount-rate-methodology
UNISON responds to the MHCLG Consultation on New Best Value Statutory Guidance: Special Severance Payments
UNISON voices its concerns on the new statutory guidance on discretionary benefits in LGPS England and challenges Government’s view that current payments are generous.
The link to the consultation document is :-https://lgpslibrary.org/assets/cons/lgpsew/20210702_DSG.pdf
You can view UNISON’s response under resources at the bottom of this page.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman accuse DWP of maladministration in relation to Women’s SPA rises
The Ombudsman has found flaws in DWP’s provision of information relating to communicating changes to the women’s state pension age where some women should have been told 28 months earlier of their increase in State Pension Age. You can view the report at https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/publications/womens-state-pension-age-our-findings-department-work-and-pensions-communication-0
Chancellor hints that may drop the Triple Lock this year
Rishi Sunak hints he may drop the Triple lock on State Pensions this year despite the government promise to keep it until at least 2024.
Please see our briefing in Resources which sets out the background to State Pension increases and why we need to at least keep the Triple Lock to protect future generations as well as current pensioners.
McCloud Consultation Update for Public Service Pension Schemes
The government has now responded to the consultation on the unfunded public service schemes that include the NHS Pension Scheme and the Civil Service Pension Schemes. A ministerial statement on the consultation for the funded schemes, i.e. the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), was released on the 13 May confirming the next steps needed to remove the age discrimination. The link to the statement is: –
Draft Regulations for the LGPS are expected in the Autumn
These set out the long-awaited government’s response to correct the unlawful discrimination on the grounds of age. This was caused by the terms of the transitional protection that was brought in for members of public service pension schemes when the new CARE schemes started in April 2015 (April 2014 for LGPS England and Wales). The transitional protection applied to members in service at 1 April 2012 who were within 10 years of their normal retirement age at that date.
The response to correct and remedy the discrimination are much as expected with transitional protections to be extended to all members in service at 1 April 2012 regardless of age.
The transitional protections only apply to benefits earned after the date the new schemes started.
For unfunded public service schemes like the NHS Pension Scheme and the Civil Service Pension schemes it is from April 2015. The remedy is to allow members the choice to be put back in their pre 2015 final salary schemes that will have a lower normal retirement age.
For the LGPS every member was moved to the new CARE scheme from April 2014 for LGPS England and Wales and April 2015 for LGPS Scotland and LGPS Northern Ireland.
The transitional protection in the LGPS is an underpin, that means the benefits of the post April 2014/15 CARE scheme are compared with the benefits the member would have earned if they had stayed in the final salary scheme and if it would have been higher the pension is increased.
Many members of public service schemes despite the higher retirement ages may be still be better off in the post 2014/15 CARE schemes at the point they leave or retire so their benefits will not need to be adjusted
A member will only know whether they would be better off as a result of moving back to the final salary scheme or, if in the LGPS, whether the underpin will increase benefits, when they retire, reach age 65, or leave service.
The Government response is to end all transitional protection from April 2022. So, for service after that date members will return to the post 2015 CARE schemes and the LGPS underpin will not apply for service after that date. The maximum period of service by the proposed remedy would be from 2014/15 to 2022.
You can view the Government consultation response in respect of the unfunded schemes such as the NHS and Civil Service Pension Schemes at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/900766/Public_Service_Pensions_Consultation.pdf.
If you are a member of the NHS Pension Scheme please go and check out our NHS Pensions McCloud FAQ document at https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/knowledge/pensions/nhs-pension-scheme/.
The Government has also un paused the cost share process for the public service pension schemes. The Government paused cost share as soon as the McCloud Judgement was confirmed in the Court of Appeal so negotiated benefit improvements because of the fall in the cost of benefits at the 2016 scheme valuations (2017 LGPS Scotland) did not come into force.
The Government is now attempting to put the cost of extending the transitional protection into cost share so effectively the members pay for it. If the Government succeeds in this it will mean that the improvements negotiated in 2019 when the cost of the benefits declined at the 2016/17 schemes valuations will be swallowed up by the increased cost of McCloud and they will not take place.
The Unions are opposing this up to and including possible legal action.
Pension Training Courses
UNISON’s Pensions Unit for Members have developed the following training courses that we can potentially undertake on request from Branches/Regions:
- Introduction to Pensions
- Getting to Grips with the NHS Pension Scheme
- An Introduction to the Local Government Pension Scheme
- Women and Pensions
We answer your questions on how your pension might be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Local Government Pension Scheme is collectively the largest public sector pension scheme in the UK with 4.6 million members and is available to any employee under the age of 75 working for an employer participating under the scheme.
The NHS Pension Scheme is a voluntary pension scheme available to all NHS employees. Benefits are paid in addition to the basic state pension. From 1 April 2015 a new NHS Pension Scheme will come into operation.
There are a wide range of pensions available so its important you understand your options in order to get the best deal for your retirement. If you feel you are not getting the right advice from your employer, speak to your local UNISON rep.
Pensions governance refers to the way pensions are invested and managed and includes such issues as how funds are invested, the composition of investments, decision making processes, socially responsible investment and ensuring sufficient assets exist to meet pension liabilities as they fall due.
The state pension is changing from 6 April 2016 which if you’re under State Pension Age, should lead to you building up a bigger state pension. This comes at a cost though. Read on for more information on state pensions.