National Update

National Bulletin - Immediate Detriment

Immediate Detriment Guidance withdrawn by Home Office

This latest bulletin is designed to provide members who are likely to be affected by the Home Office’s decision to withdraw its informal and non-statutory guidance on immediate detriment. Immediate detriment relates to firefighters who have or are likely to retire in the near future and are members of the Firefighters Pension Schemes.

The issue of how to remedy the age discrimination caused by the government’s decision to implement the 2015 Firefighters Pension Scheme in an illegal fashion has been ongoing since the successful legal challenge back in December 2018.

Without a legal agreement to remedy the discrimination, Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) have found themselves in the unenviable position of having to manage situations where their employees retire (or due to retire) and calculate, manage, and make pension payments to pensioners without a legal process with which to undertake this process.

As an interim measure, the Home Office published guidance on how to process immediate detriment cases in August 2020 and subsequently revised this guidance in June 2021, removing outdated information and to provide further updates due to policy progress.

Subsequently, the FBU/LGA published a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the treatment of immediate detriment cases, advising FRAs on how to process both rectification of immediate detriment cases (i.e. those cases where the individual has already retired and in receipt of a pension) and pipeline cases (i.e. those cases where the individuals are approaching retirement).

However, it appears that neither the Home Office nor HM Treasury officials were involved in the production of this framework, and it does not represent Government policy.

The Home Office withdrew its informal guidance last month, which is less than helpful to the situation whereby FRAs are being asked to process pension calculations and payments which in retrospect may be incorrect and open to legal challenge by the individuals. This is by no means a satisfactory situation for any party and the responsibility to overcome a mess created by the government rests with the government, which currently seems in no great hurry to resolve the problem.

The Government has stated that it does not advise schemes to process any immediate detriment cases before the legislation is in place, given the risk and uncertainty identified above. This means that FRAs are being asked to calculate, manage, and pay pensions for recent retirees, which they know is likely to be incorrect.

Ultimately, FRAs remain responsible on whether to process cases or not based on their own assessment of the competing legal risks. In the absence of any government direction on how immediate detriment cases are to be resolved, the FRSA supports the use of the MOU. The FRSA will continue to make representations to government through our membership of the Firefighters’ Scheme Advisory Board.

If you are directly affected by immediate detriment, you are advised to speak to FRSA HQ for further support and advice.

Philip Hayes
Pensions Lead, FRSA

FRSA Noticeboards

The FRSA has a facilities agreement in every FRS where it has a recognition agreement with the local service/authority, this includes the use of a noticeboard on every fire station. If your station doesn’t have one and would be interested in having one, either contact your local FRSA official or FRSA HQ and we will be happy to provide one.

Represent the FRSA in your service

We are always willing to hear from members who are interested in joining our network of local officials that represent members within their own fire and rescue service. The contribution these officials make can literally be life-changing for members and is a very rewarding role which attracts payment for trade union duties. Training is provided by the Association and a mentoring arrangement is available, although the key attribute is your experience as an operational firefighter!

If you would like to know more, please contact FRSA HQ via 01953 455005 or [email protected].

Our offer to you

A new information leaflet is available encapsulating the key benefits of being a member of the FRSA. The document is available via our website and we would recommend that this is shared with your colleagues on station.