Call for clarity on pensions transition arrangements

by Keith Cooper

The Government must offer ‘absolute assurance’ that doctors will not be forced to pay for any fix to its transitional arrangements for the 2015 pension scheme.

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 21 October 2020
slip of pay

This is just one of the calls in the BMA’s detailed response to a Government consultation on its plans to remedy the age discrimination identified last year in these transition arrangements.

The Department for Health and Social Care last year conceded that the imposition of the 2015 NHS pension scheme unlawfully discriminated against members through these transitional provisions.

Protection was offered to older members – those within 10 years of retirement in April 2012. This allowed these older members to remain on the 1995/2008 final salary scheme rather than be forced to join the less favourable 2015 pension scheme.

As a result of this, tens of thousands of younger doctors potentially suffered not only a reduction in their pension but an enforced increase in the age at which they could retire, compared with their older colleagues.

The BMA’s response described the Government’s ‘deferred choice underpin’ option as the only suitable one as it will allow members to base their pension decisions on actual rather than ‘assumed benefits’.

It adds, however, that no doctor should be expected to shoulder the cost of any fix to the discrimination – either through paying for it through their pensions or from the cost of advice they might seek to navigate the already ‘exceedingly complex’ pension rules and the remedy.

It was essential that costs linked to the remedy were ‘borne directly by Government and that employee contribution rates, accrual rates and overall pension benefits are not adversely impacted by your proposed remedy’, it adds. ‘We need absolute assurance this will not be the case as otherwise members will still be paying for this detriment through an alternative mechanism and this is wholly unacceptable.’

The Government consultation says it is ‘committed to fixing the discrimination as quickly as possible’. It is now closed in England, Wales and Scotland but remains open for members in Northern Ireland.

In addition to the BMA's detailed response, more than 4,000 BMA members participated by submitting individual responses.

Read the BMA’s response the consultation paper