Govt announces bill to ensure ‘equal treatment’ of public service pension members

A Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill has been announced by the government in the Queen’s Speech, as the government looks to address discrimination found by the McCloud ruling.

The government's aim for the bill is to ensure “equal treatment” for all members in main public service pension schemes, although further details are yet to be finalised.

In 2018, firefighters and judges won a legal case against the government that changes made to their pension schemes were discriminatory on the grounds of age.

Changes in 2015 meant that older members could stay in their existing and ‘better’ pension schemes.

The government confirmed in July 2019 that the ruling would apply to all public sector pension schemes.

Earlier this year, the government published guidance on how to proceed with addressing the discrimination, following a consultation that confirmed its intention to use the deferred choice underpin approach for most schemes.

Commenting on the announcement of the bill, LCP partner Nikki Ayriss, warned that the process was going to be a “long and winding road” for schemes and members.

"It is welcome that the government will be bringing forward legislation to respond to the finding of age discrimination in its public service pension reforms,” she stated. “But this is going to be a long and winding road for schemes and scheme members.
"It is a huge job for schemes to reinstate millions of members into the pre-reform schemes and also to handle the process of deferred choice when members retire.

“There is no doubt that members will need clear information and help both to understand what is going on and to make good choices."

The government plans to bring forward the bill in this term of parliament.

Many within the pensions industry had called on the government to include scams in the Online Safety Bill.

The bill was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech, and Aegon head of pensions, Kate Smith, urged the government to not “miss this opportunity” to include scams in the bill.

“We’re hoping that the government won’t miss this opportunity to include financial scams in the bill, which most people would consider a form of online harm,” they commented.

“The rise of online adverts for example, encouraging people to invest in assets that may not even exist or dishonestly trick people by using trusted brands or names is unfortunately a growing issue and one which needs to be urgently addressed. The bill will shortly be debated in parliament.”

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