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Government urged to stop ‘dragging its heels’ on improving firefighter pensions

THE government was urged today to stop “dragging its heels” on improving the pensions of firefighters and other public-sector workers.

In a letter to Treasury Minister Rishi Sunak MP the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has demanded that the government implement a court decision to increase pension benefits for firefighters and public-sector workers.

The root of the dispute stems back to 2015 when the government amended firefighter pensions with a new proposal that meant older firefighters were kept on better pension schemes while younger firefighters were moved on to schemes that would offer less.

The court of appeal ruled in December 2018 that the changes were discriminatory on the grounds of age, sex and race and ordered a stop to the plans.

A cost-control mechanism, which the union says would have improved pensions, was paused in January by the Treasury which said the cost of fixing the pension discrimination would affect the value of the pension.

The union is now urging the government to “unpause” this and hurry up with making changes.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters and other public-sector workers have had their improved benefits withheld for long enough.

“Younger workers have been discriminated against and ending that discrimination should not prevent improvements to public-sector pensions.

“Our understanding of this is clear — these costs fall outside the valuation exercise. The government is dragging its heels.

“There is no longer any justification for this painful delay. The Treasury must immediately unpause the pensions remedy process so that hard-working firefighters and other public-sector workers can receive the benefits they are owed.”

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