Many firefighters are set to receive thousands of pounds in compensation as the government admits members of the '18-20 club’ were short changed and missing two years’ worth of pension contributions, following a successful legal challenge by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
The '18-20 club' describes a number of members who joined the 1992 Firefighters Pensions Scheme between the ages of 18-20 and ended up paying into the scheme for up to 32 years, only to receive a 30 year pension on retirement. This was because, unlike many other pension plans, this scheme had an accrual cap of 30 years.
Now those firefighters affected are set to be compensated after the Department for Communities and Local Government conceded defeat before the start of a test case hearing, which was due to begin 7 December 2015.
The concession means that serving firefighters who have accrued 30 years’ service will not have to pay any further pension contributions until they reach the age of 50 – a ‘contributions holiday’ if you will. It also means that firefighters who paid these additional contributions since 1 December 2006 and who have since retired will be paid back the contributions they made to their pension at age 48 and 49, plus interest.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a huge victory for the union and for those firefighters who were denied up to two years’ worth of a pension they had made contributions on. As we approach Christmas I know this will be welcome news for many throughout the UK. None of this would have been possible without a strong trade union that fights for its members, this was a case brought solely by the FBU on behalf of its members.”
Earlier this year the Pensions Ombudsman ruled that thousands of former firefighters were not awarded the correct lump sum payment they should have received on retirement following mistakes by the Government Actuaries Department. Firefighters who retired between 1 December 2001 and 21 August 2006 will now be awarded what they should have received, amounting to thousands of pounds for some members.
The FBU has asked members who have benefitted from the legal victories to consider making a donation to the union’s campaigning fund to help fight for other firefighters.
Matt Wrack added: “Our trade union is under attack like never before. The government, through its draconian trade union bill, aims to make it harder for firefighters to join our union and to stop us from successfully challenging them – like we have just done. And this is against a backdrop of the biggest cuts in the history of the fire and rescue service. I’d urge everyone who will benefit from these legal victories to consider donating to make sure the union can continue to defend firefighters and the fire and rescue service.”
Watch a video update on the legal victories won by the union.
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