In 2015, the Government introduced reforms to public sector pension schemes. This resulted in establishing a number of new reformed schemes across the public sector. For civil servants, this scheme was alpha. Depending on how close they were to scheme retirement age, existing civil servants who were in post on 31 March 2012 either:
- moved into alpha straight away
- remained in their old scheme (transitional full protection), or
- had a staggered move into alpha (taper protection)
All civil servants who joined after 31 March 2012 moved into alpha in 2015.
In December 2018, the Court of Appeal held the transitional protection offered to members who were closer to retirement age gave rise to unlawful discrimination, as younger members were not eligible to receive it. This is known as the ‘McCloud Judgment’.
The Government sought permission from the Supreme Court to appeal the judgement, however this was not granted.
A written ministerial statement published on the 15 July 2019 confirmed that, as transitional protection was offered to members of all the main public service pension schemes, including the Civil Service Pension Scheme, the government intends to remedy the difference in treatment across all those schemes. A copy of the statement is available via the link below:
Impact of the Court of Appeal Ruling
The Department of Finance is monitoring developments with regard to the impact of the judgement across public service pension schemes in Northern Ireland, including the Northern Ireland Civil Service Pension Schemes. An update can be found below.
So what does this mean for you?
Remedy hearings are ongoing in the employment tribunals as are discussions with relevant stakeholders as to how to address the unlawful treatment identified by the Court of Appeal, and so we’re unable to confirm exactly what it means for members. It’s not as straightforward as returning all pension members to their pre-2015 schemes as this would cause detriment for a lot of our pension scheme members. There are many individuals who are expected to be better off within alpha
At this time, the most important message is that ‘The pension you have earned to date is safe.’
What happens next?
During 2020, we expect that employment tribunal hearings and stakeholder discussions to progress and we expect this will result in agreement as to a way forward to address the unlawful treatment. Once this has been agreed, actions will be undertaken to rectify the situation.
We are and will be engaging with the relevant stakeholders including (but not limited to) Trade Unions, Employers, HM Treasury and affected members to ensure all views are considered.
How do I stay updated ?
We aim to update the McCloud judgement web pages within 24 hours of any important updates, and plan to develop a range of FAQs as new information becomes available so that members and employers have the most up to date information at their fingertips.