I am conscious that there have been queries from officers, and social media debate about the CARE 2015 scheme. The purpose of this email is to make the PFEW position clear. I will not pretend that we do not have our own concerns: but these are more to do with practical details than with the scheme’s likelihood of delivering a sound pension to our members. It is crucial, in the interests of members, that we deliver a clear message on this. I therefore ask you to share this email as widely as possible, and to take cognisance of its contents in your further communications with officers.
We cannot give members advice about their individual financial circumstances, including pensions. However, we believe that for members the new CARE 2015 scheme will deliver a good package of benefits that is better than that provided by other public sector schemes. Also we believe that it is extremely unlikely that members will be able to match those benefits for the same cost by the use of private individual arrangements. The Home Office has made it clear that the scheme will be introduced on 1st April, and we would not wish to see members being financially disadvantaged as a result of them opting out of membership. Any officer thinking of opting out should carefully consider the fact that this would cause them to lose out on a number of valuable benefits with regard to; existing accrued PPS/NPPS rights; access to ill-health and death in service benefits; and the loss of employer contributions and tax relief on their own contributions.
Having said that, we have worked with the Home Office to try to ensure the scheme is as fit for purpose as possible, and ready by 1st April 2015. However, the Home Office have clearly experienced some difficulties in drafting the Regulations and Members’ Guidance, and there have been a number of delays to their schedule. This leads us to conclude that there will probably be practical teething problems with the scheme. Our work with the Home Office, in attempting to shape the scheme to the better, has given us the chance to anticipate what these teething problems will be. We anticipate that forces will find it difficult to give definitive guidance to people. We expect that it will be difficult to build force systems to deal with the new scheme. We think it will be difficult to train staff to answer members’ queries. We believe forces’ communications with members about the scheme will be poor, and the accuracy and timing of the overall guidance from the Home Office will be inadequate. However, this is NOT the same as the scheme not being financially a sound choice, and we need to make sure members see the distinction.
We have written to both the Policing Minister and Home Secretary with these concerns, to ensure they are documented. Once the scheme begins, we would urge members to approach us with any issues, so that we can continue to feed these to the Home Office, and so that we can help to ensure that matters are addressed properly.