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 at Pensionsqueriesformembers@unison.co.uk quoting your UNISON membership number and copying in your local UNISON Branch.
State pension to increase by 8.5% from April 2024
At the Autumn Statement 2023, chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the ‘triple lock’ will be implemented from April 2024, meaning that the state pension will be increased by the earnings growth figure of 8.5%.
The triple lock commits the government to uprate the state pension by the highest figure of: CPI inflation, average earnings growth, or 2.5%.
The government did not implement the triple lock in 2022, using the lower CPI figure of 3.1% rather than the higher earnings growth figure of 8.4%. A permanent reduction of the state pension for pensioners and those saving for a state pension of all ages of 5.3%
For 2024, there was speculation that the government might alter its earnings growth calculation to exclude public sector pay increases. This would have meant using a lower figure (7.8%).
The change in the state pension has been described as a ‘blockbuster’ increase, but UNISON believes that it is essential that the state pension maintains and increases its value, for the good of current pensioners but also so that a decent state pension is available to current workers when they retire.
The updated UNISON briefing on state pension increases discusses the issue and compares the triple lock with the previous uprating method and the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ December 2023 report on the state pension is discussed here.
UNISON responds to NHS Pension Scheme consultation
UNISON does not agree with proposals to make employee contributions to the NHS pension scheme more regressive in England and Wales. You can read the latest consultation response here: UNISON response to NHS employee contribn cons.
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.