The Public and Commercial Services Union, Firefighters Union, GMB Union, Royal College of Nursing, Unite and POA Union sought a joint judicial review on Wednesday, with the PCS seeking in particular to force the government to allow a 2 per cent pension contributions, originally promised as part of the 2016 assessments, will continue.
A judicial review is a legal proceeding in which a judge examines the legality of a decision or action taken by a public body. It cannot be filed directly – the court must first seek permission.
As Pensions Expert previously reported, the decision to transfer the cost of the McCloud appeal to 2016 assessments has angered several unions, as the government initially promised that favorable results at these assessments would result in increased benefits. and a reduction in dues.
Our members and key public sector workers have kept the country running during the pandemic and yet the government, their employer, has treated them appallingly. Bringing this case is an important and united step in the fight against this great injustice
However, the cost of McCloud, which the unions and the public accounts committee say was a mistake by the Treasury in the first place, means what could have been a positive result has been wiped out, which the unions say is a broken promise to their members.
Mark Rowe, national leader of the firefighters’ union, explained: “The government is trying to make public sector workers pay through a pension scheme called ‘cost control’.
“Cost control adjusts pension contributions or benefits if the actual cost of the pension plan deviates from the target cost of the pension plan by 2 percent or more, with workers losing out if the actual cost is higher.
“It was the government that introduced the cost control mechanism in the new pension plan. The mechanism provided that the savings made through the new scheme would be passed on to these affiliates. The government now wishes to ignore the legislation that created this provision, the legislation that it introduced.
The PCS, in particular, claims its members have been ‘robbed’, forced to over-contribute to their civil service pensions over the past two years and lose, on average, £1,000. The BMA made a similar claim in November.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members and key public sector workers have kept the country running during the pandemic and yet the government, their employer, has treated them appallingly. Bringing this case is an important and united step in the fight against this great injustice. »
PCS holding strike bulletin
The PCS announced on Monday it would launch an advisory ballot on strikes in the new year as a combination of wage freezes, inflation, an April National Insurance hike and ‘pension theft’ of McCloud left its members facing a cost-of-life crisis.
The union, which is the sixth largest in the UK and the biggest representative of civil servants and other public sector employees, stressed that the advisory ballot will not determine strike action, but “will ask members what measures they would be willing to take”.
“A legal ballot for industrial action may follow later,” he added.
“Unjustifiable” government interference
PCS has called the government’s attempts to pass the costs of the McCloud appeal on to its members as “scandalous and unjustifiable interference by the government in the valuation and cost cap processes of the public service pension plan in recent years.” .
Public sector plans were asked in October to conclude their 2016 assessments after the pause in the cost cap mechanism, introduced in response to the McCloud ruling in 2019, was lifted following changes to the mechanism by the Treasury.
PCS argues that the initial results revealed a breach in the “floor” of the public sector cost cap, showing that the future cost of the scheme had been “exaggerated” and that there was more money to be spent on reducing costs. employee contributions – approximately 2 percent. cent — and improved benefits.
However, revising the valuation with the costs of the McCloud remedy will mean that there is no such breach, and therefore the promised increase in benefits cannot take place.
The union argued that the Treasury’s changes to the cost control mechanism “would tear the original base of the cap, making it likely that there will never be a breach in the future”.
Cabinet Office opens consultation as McCloud challenges mount
The Cabinet Office has launched a consultation on how the McCloud remedy should be implemented for members of the civil service pension scheme, while the GMB union has joined the list of those challenging it in court.
“To compound this already diabolical approach to scheme members, the government is proposing that the full cost of the remedy be charged within the current four-year assessment period, rather than being spread over a longer period,” it said. he declared.
“This is totally unwarranted, given that most members will not decide their share of the cost of litigation until they approach retirement.”
A UK Treasury spokesman said: ‘We cannot comment on ongoing litigation.