Foster secures £133m funding for police and fire fighter pensions

Date published: 19 October 2015

Finance Minister Arlene Foster has secured around £133 million funding from HM Treasury to meet the cost of pension settlements for affected retired police and fire fighters in Northern Ireland.
The settlements will follow a determination by the Pensions Ombudsman, which upholds a complaint made by a retired Scottish fire fighter, that he should have received a larger retirement lump sum than he actually received. The ruling also applies in respect of the Northern Ireland police and fire fighter pension schemes.

The Finance Minister said: "There are significant cost implications, in the region of £133 million, arising from the Ombudsman’s ruling. At a time when budgets are already severely stretched, this would have put unprecedented pressure on the budgets of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and the Department of Justice who have overall responsibility for the fire fighter and police pension schemes respectively.

"Following negotiations with the Chancellor, I have been able to secure the necessary funding from HM Treasury to meet the upfront costs associated with making payments to the affected pensioners. As a result, we will avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences of the two Departments having to absorb these costs.

"Work is now underway to ensure that affected pensioners receive appropriate payments in a timely manner."

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Pensions Ombudsman issued a determination on 15 May 2015 which upholds a complaint made by a retired Scottish fire-fighter, Mr Milne that he should have received a larger retirement lump sum from the Scottish Fire-fighters’ Pension Scheme than he actually received.
  2. The Ombudsman found that the Government Actuary’s Department, GAD, committed maladministration by failing to properly update actuarial factors used to calculate retirement lump sums for the Fire-fighters and Police Pension Schemes.
  3. The case has direct read across in Northern Ireland for the Fire-fighters’ Pension Scheme, for which the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety has responsibility, and the Police Pension Scheme for which the Department of Justice has responsibility.
  4. No other public service pension schemes are impacted by this decision. It is estimated that in Northern Ireland this Determination will impact on around 190 fire-fighters who retired between the 1 December 2001 and 21 August 2006, and just over 3,000 Police Officers who retired between 1 December 2001 and 30 November 2006.
  5. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance and Personnel Communications Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or Tel: 028 90816895. Out of Office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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