The Civil Service Pensioners Alliance
Link to CSPA Website – www.cspa.co.uk
Government Reply on Triple Lock dated 01 December 2021 – Please click here to read the attached correspondence.
Government Reply on Winter Fuel Allowance dated 02 March 2022 – Please click here to read the attached correspondence.
PSPC Briefing : HM Treasury launches consultation on Public Service pensions Cost-Cap mechanism
HM Treasuryhas launched a consultation into public service pensions cost control mechanism. A copy of the Consultation is attached as a Pdf file for ease of reference. This consultation had been expected following the Government decision in January 2019 to pause the discussions with the public service unions on potential reductions in member pension contributions, arising from the 2016 valuations, due to the anticipated significant pension costs in remedying the McCloud judgement in December 2018.
This consultation sets out the Government’s proposed changes to the cost control mechanism, following a review by the Government Actuary. These are:
- Moving to a reformed scheme only design (both past and future service) and removing the allowance for legacy schemes.
- Widening the corridor to 3% pensionable pay, which the Government estimates should mean there are breaches broadly every 20 valuations.
- Introducing an economic check, which would take into account the broader economic situation before triggering a mechanism that changed pension scheme benefits.
The consultation on the proposed changes is open until 19 August.
Overall, the proposals are thought to make it harder for valuations of public sector pension schemes to trigger changes to member contributions and benefits.
The consultation proposals will not impact on existing public service pensioners but will reduce the scope for future benefits improvements or reductions in member contributions.
The PSPC will be monitoring the consultation and will provide updates to our affiliated organisations during the consultation process.
A briefing on the State Pension Triple-Lock has just been published by the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI). This examines in detail the current political debate about options that are under consideration for changing the mechanism in anticipation of a spike in the average earnings trigger in 2021. The PSPC Executive Council will be considering the issue of the triple-lock at its next meeting.
Welcome to your latest CSPA newsletter
I hope that this newsletter finds you safe and well.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING:
Unfortunately, the Annual General Meeting, due to take place 7 and 8 October 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic.
The Executive Council has responsibility for administering Alliance business between AGMs and we will do our utmost to uphold the spirit of our Rules and Constitution within the constraints of the Covid-19 restrictions. We are considering actively how to adapt and progress the work of the Alliance in these difficult times and will keep you informed.
The AGM is valued by all of us as a major part of the Alliance’s year. We have considered how we can mitigate the effects of this cancellation in the paragraphs below. For the most part, this means carrying over the business that is usually conducted at the AGM until next year.
It has been agreed by members of the EC that they will remain in post beyond October 2020 for a further year. If any member wishes to stand down during that period, then we will take steps to fill the vacancy following the usual procedures.
A major purpose of the Annual General Meeting is for groups to bring forward issues that they would like included in Alliance campaigns and policy, and for these issues to be debated.
Restrictions in place due to COVID19, have meant few groups have been able to meet in order agree to forward motions for debate at the AGM. Even if we had allowed motions to be submitted by email, many groups would not have a fair opportunity to participate. It would also not be possible to have a full debate on motions.
Groups who have discussed and agreed a new urgent issue that cannot wait until next year’s planned AGM are invited to highlight this in writing to the General Secretary.
We will continue to take forward other issues, considered relevant to our members, as part of the Alliance’s work and with colleagues in Later Life Ambitions (we have already dealt with the sudden announcement of the BBC plans to turn off the red button service earlier this year, and the reported threat to the Triple Lock more recently) We are also formulating plans with LLA partners on how to deal with the Intergenerational Fairness debate which will continue as we emerge from lockdown, and the tighter restrictions that have been placed on older people, purely on an age- related basis, during the measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Annual Report 2019, including the Financial Report and Statement of Accounts, has recently been circulated to all members with the summer edition of The Pensioner magazine. Any groups and members with questions on the document are invited to write to the General Secretary.
Both the 2019 and 2020 Annual Report and Financial Report and Statement of Accounts will be put forward for adoption at the 2021 AGM.
HEADQUARTERS OFFICE – CLOSURE CONTINUES
Government guidance for England remains that “anyone who can work from home should continue to do so and to avoid public transport.” In line with that guidance the HQ office remains closed. This is under regular review as lockdown measures begin to be eased. Latest Government Guidance can be found at this link: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Please continue to bear in mind that we cannot provide the same level of service as before lockdown. We thank you for patience and understanding whilst HQ staff are working from home.
At this time the website has proved to be a valuable means of communicating news to members and I would encourage you to check it regularly.
The leadership team will continue to review and implement further adaptations to our way of working, as necessary and in the light of further official guidance.
Whilst we are not in the office to answer enquiries directly you can reach us by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some contact details that may also be useful:
NB MyCSP has changed contact details due to the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. An email only service is operating email@example.com
a limited telephone service 01903 835 600 is available for members who:
- have suffered a bereavement
- do not have internet access
- are in financial hardship
- are awaiting a payment
A guidance leaflet is available on the Alliance website in the members area under “other documents”.
The Charity for Civil Servants: telephone number 0800 056 2424, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Civil Service Insurance Society: telephone number 01622 766960, or visit https://www.csis.co.uk/contact-us/
General Advice for older people
Age UK: telephone number 0800 678 1602 (lines are open 8am-7pm, every day)
Independent Age: Telephone number 0800 319 6789, or email: email@example.com
INTERNATIONAL WIDOWS’ DAY- WIDOWS’ PENSIONS FOR LIFE CAMPAIGN-WE NEED YOUR HELP!
The Alliance has marked International Widows’ Day, which fell on 23 June this year, with the launch of a dedicated campaign website and a call to all our members to write to their MP. We need to highlight the unfair choice faced by many widow(er)s receiving a pension in the Classic scheme- to remarry/cohabit and lose the pension, or face the rest of life without a companion and keep a small independent income. In addition, we are campaigning to increase the number of years of reckonable service which count towards survivor benefits in post-retirement marriages. The website is being managed by our PA consultants Connect and can be found at this link or via the Alliance’s main website.
We recently launched the campaign in Parliament by meeting with Baroness Crawley to brief her on the anomalies in the Classic Pension Scheme. Baroness Crawley has already tabled some Parliamentary Questions on behalf of the Alliance and is willing to assist us in the Campaign.
We hope that as many members as possible will take action on this important campaign so that the beneficiaries of those who retired before 2002 can receive fair and equal treatment. We hope that those who are not able to access the website materials will write to their MP using the information provided about the campaign in recent editions of the Pensioner magazine. Please let us know if you receive a response and thank you for you help.
CAMPAIGN UPDATE-CIVIL SERVICE PENSION BOARD
Lisa Ray, General Secretary reported on video link to the Civil Service Pensions Board earlier this month. This represented a breakthrough for the Alliance after several years of trying to engage with the Board. They have an advisory role to the Cabinet Office Pensions Minister. In the short time allowed the difficulties experienced by some members drawing their Civil Service Pension, was highlighted. The Board does not get involved in individual cases, but one particular case was discussed to pinpoint our concern over the accuracy of pension calculations. In addition, the Board were made aware of common problems in the administration of Civil Service Pensions, feedback from members, and other ongoing policy concerns.
We continue to put in every effort to push for improvements in the services received by our members. However, we are still dealing with a number of cases where errors have been made. The advice remains that any member who receives a letter from MyCSP which makes demands for repayment, should not agree to any arrangement before first contacting the Alliance for assistance. We will shortly be meeting the new CEO of MyCSP to discuss our ongoing concerns and advice for improving the service to members.
TRIPLE-LOCK UNDER THREAT
Once again the triple-lock mechanism for uprating the State Pension by the higher of inflation; earnings; or 2.5% is under threat only weeks after the Prime Minister appeared to stand by the manifesto pledge to retain it for the duration of this Parliament. The Financial Times has reported that Chancellor Sunak is preparing to break the pledge, due to concerns that the policy could soon become unaffordable because of the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. The FT reported that the Treasury has noted with alarm official forecasts that wages could soar in 2021 as they rebound from an artificial dip caused by the government’s job retention scheme. Some 9m people currently receive only 80 per cent of their wages under the furlough scheme.
While the April 2021 pension payments would not be hit by this year’s dip in wages — because of the 2.5 per cent minimum annual increase under the triple-lock — the Treasury would find itself paying very large increases to pensioners the following year, based on an expected sharp recovery of wages when the furlough scheme ends.
The Alliance, through Later Life Ambitions, has written to the Chancellor seeking a meeting on the issue and emphasising the importance of the triple-lock to reversing the long-term decline in the value of the State Pension relative earnings. An OECD study in 2017 found that the UK has the lowest State Pension relative to earnings than 36 other leading industrialised countries. In the letter we argued “we are keen to find effective solutions that prevent pensioner poverty, and get the economy moving, as we understand that this is of paramount importance to the future of country”.
Last month the Prime Minister was asked at the House of Commons liaison committee whether he would continue to honour the pensions triple lock, and responded: “We are going to meet all of our manifesto commitments. Unless I specifically tell you otherwise”.
BBC RED BUTTON SERVICE
In late May BBC invited the Alliance and other partners to nominate individual users of the Red Button text-based service in order “to gain their insights into how they use the service and what they value about it“. We have put forward the names of some individual members from the Cheltenham and Crawley Groups and Scotland Branch who had contacted us about the red button service, and they are now being contacted by the BBC directly to inform their views on the future of the red button service. This followed a sudden announcement at the end of January that the BBC would end this service, arguing that such information was available from their on-line Internet services.
Following representations from LLA and other pensioner organisations the BBC reversed this decision and entered consultation on the future of the red button service, and the General Secretary and AGS met with BBC Executives in early March. The Alliance has highlighted this issue as an example of “digital exclusion” whereby older people with no access to the Internet are effectively excluded from day to day services on which they rely.
FREE TV LICENCES FOR OVER-75’S
The Alliance, with our LLA partners , has written to the new newly appointed director-general of the BBC Tim Davie urging him to maintain the free TV licence for the over 75’s, which is currently due to end from August. The letter signed by General Secretary Lisa Ray said “we understand that the decision to end the concession has been postponed until August. We recognise the challenging position that the BBC has been put into by the government through the Digital economy Act 2017, however the end of the concession could be devastating for many old people. We are particularly concerned about the likely increase in loneliness compounded by the need for those aged over 70 to continue to self-isolate due to COVID-19”.
The letter also referred to The LLA survey of members, to which many Alliance members responded, revealing that over 60% agreed that losing the TV licence concession would cause them to feel lonely, and 70% of members said that their TV was the main means for staying up-to-date with news and current affairs and that losing it would be devastating. Our survey story also made it onto the Mirror Online website and can be viewed at this link https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/government-should-fund-free-tv-22194437
A final decision by the BBC is expected at the end of June. If the free TV licence is ended it will mean 3.75 million pensioners not receiving pension credits having to pay the increased cost of £157.50 for the annual licence from 1 August.
BEWARE OF TELEPHONE SCAMS
Wales Region Secretary Aileen Haskell contacted the Alliance to alert other members of a telephone scam from fraudsters pretending to be from HMRC. The caller told her that fraud had been committed and that she should “press 1” for more information or a warrant would be issued for her arrest! Clearly such a call would be intimidating to many people especially at a time when so many older and vulnerable people have been self-isolating at home. Members are advised to just put the phone down and follow the official HMRC advice, which is:
Reporting suspicious emails, texts or phone calls:
You can report something suspicious to HMRC’s phishing team, for example:
- a text message (forward it to 60599 – you’ll be charged at your network rate)
- an email
- details of a phone call asking for personal information or threatening a lawsuit
If you receive a suspicious phone call, you can help HMRC’s investigations by providing:
- your phone number
- the caller’s phone number
- the time and date of the call
- a brief description of the call
HMRC phishing team: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALLIANCE URGES CHARITY SHOPS NOT TO SIDE-LINE OLDER VOLUNTEERS
The contribution of older people to volunteering in charity shops must continue as shops begin to reopen the Alliance with our LLA partners has argued in a letter to the Charity Retail Association (CRA) . This followed press reports that charities were actively encouraging younger volunteers for their shops as many older people were shielding on Government advice or were otherwise self-isolating.
The letter to the CRA, signed by General Secretary Lisa Ray, said:
“Our members are concerned that the contribution older people make to society through volunteering is being side-lined, under the guise of protecting their health. Many older people are fit, active and play an important role in their communities, and we are concerned that the door is being opened to ageism and the perpetuation of inaccurate stereotypes. In fact, a recent survey of our members showed that over 9% have still continued to volunteer throughout lockdown.
“We appreciate that your priority is to ensure that charity shops are able to reopen and prosper, and we would like to work with you to ensure that the vital contribution of older people is recognised. Many of our members want to return to their roles in local shops as soon as possible and are keen to discuss how this can work in practice. There may also be other opportunities for those who are continuing to self-isolate to support charity shops, such as mentoring those taking part in the Million Hours Initiative.”
The Alliance AGS David Luxton had a very useful video meeting on 19 June with Robin Osterley, CEO of the Charity Retail Association, who re-affirmed their “absolute commitment to older volunteers”, who comprise around one-fifth of the total number of 230,000 volunteers working in Charity Shops. He explained that more volunteers were needed as shops reopened as there was already a shortage of around 20,000 volunteers before the pandemic; and it was expected that around a third of older volunteers would not be returning as the shops reopened.
A website portal has been set up to attract new volunteers and match them to Charity Shops vacancies in their local area, taking account of their charity preferences. This can be accessed at: www.charityshopvolunteer.org.uk
CSPA TRAVEL INSURANCE POLICY – UPDATE FROM THE INSURERS AXA PPP HEALTHCARE LTD
https://www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/travel-and-your-insurance/ provides further information on the options available for members seeking refund of premiums paid at this years renewal but including the three months of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown when the insurance cover could not be used.
Members who have taken out insurance cover and are seeking a refund are being advised to email AXA PPP healthcare Ltd at the following email address email@example.com they are advising that it could take up to six weeks to process a refund/
For members who cancelled their policies after 16 March 2020 participating members are being advised to call AXA PPP healthcare Ltd by no later than 1 August 2020 or within three months of the cancellation date if they wish to take out further travel insurance. Members should call the telephone number 01892 504 444
This information has also been available on the CSPA website since the beginning of June.
FUTURE OF THE ALLIANCE-COMPLETE OUR SURVEY!
The survey stage of the Alliance 2025 project is now underway and we have had over 600 responses online. We expect that when the office reopens that there will be many more copies awaiting us. Please complete the survey to help us shape the future of the Alliance. The information gathered will help us to look at how we serve our members best, and how we work towards our goal to become the “go-to” organisation for retired civil servants.
The online survey is here: https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/n0-ACA1Kc9EJDf8A1cH
As always, keep safe and well, and thank you for your continuing support of the Alliance.
Lisa Ray, General Secretary, CSPA
I hope that this special newsletter finds you safe and well .
I wanted to let you know about our ongoing campaign for Widows Pensions for life, launched on International Widows Day.
One of our members Elaine, sums up the reason for our campaign here:
“ I believe it is a Victorian approach to widows to insist that they lose their widows pension should they remarry or cohabit as a couple. This is basically saying that women should be dependent on their existing partner, even if their deceased partner had paid in for many years into the pension fund in the belief that it would provide security in the event of their death”
It is no longer excusable in this day and age that a woman is forced to lose her independent widow’s pension income should she choose to remarry or cohabit, or that it becomes her new partner’s responsibility to provide for her.
In 2002, there were big changes made and provision in the newer schemes to ensure that anyone in receipt of a widow’s or widower’s pension would receive that pension for life. Those in service at that date were given a choice to transfer across to these newer schemes.
Unfortunately, members who had already retired or left the Civil Service we’re not able to make these changes, and therefore this unfortunate anomaly still or will exist for their surviving spouses .
Similarly, those who married after retirement in the Classic Scheme will only have their service back to 1978 ( 1988 for women) reckonable for their surviving spouse to draw as a pension, regardless of their length of service.
We do not think that this is right. It means that real lives are affected by difficult choices, at a time when life should be fulfilled and content. Financial independence adds up to so much more than the modest sum paid over each year, it allows participation in local communities and economies and all the intrinsic benefits that brings.
Consider that the average annual pension paid to spouses and dependents is only £4,397 compared to £7,898 for the average retired Civil Servant, and you will agree, we are sure that it is not an unreasonable request for this to continue to be paid.
We have launched a dedicated website at this link which gives all the background to our campaign.
It gives details how you can assist us by writing to your MP. We are especially keen to hear from you if you are affected by this , we can share your story to illustrate the real life impact of these outmoded rules.
Thanks for reading and please support our campaign.
Keep safe and well.
Previous CSPA Newsletter
We hope that this edition of the newsletter finds you well and tolerating the winter weather to the best of your ability. In the UK we seem to be experiencing one storm after another with some terrible and repeated flooding. This has also meant that any new year resolutions to get fit in the great outdoors have been put on the back burner for now! As I write this, daffodils are blooming and so there is hope that spring may at last have arrived.
In the last issue of the Alliance newsletter, I wrote about our General Election campaign, if you took action and contacted your local candidates then “thank you!”
We have followed up on this campaign by contacting all those MPs now in parliament who responded to our members. The General Secretary (GS), Lisa Ray and Assistant General Secretary (AGS), David Luxton, have met with Stephen Morgan MP and Rob Roberts MP to talk through the importance of ensuring that older people are supported and appreciated for the value that they bring to their local communities and economies. We discussed in detail, the need for cross party cooperation and agreement on resolving the social care crisis and our concerns over the increase in Financial exclusion, though closure of bank branches among other issues. More meetings with MPs from all parties are timetabled to take place during March.
We now have a majority Conservative Government and this will now bring some relative stability to progress other policy issues. The triple lock on Basic State Pension increases is reckoned to be safe. The withdrawal of the free TV Licence for those over 75 by the BBC ( after it was told to fund it in negotiations under George Osbourne as Chancellor), now seems to be morphing into questions about the justification for a TV Licence at all. The Government has launched a consultation into decriminalisation of TV licence evasion. This may have worrying and far-reaching implications for the services provided by the UK’s National Broadcaster.
Boris Johnson’s Government has quickly got to work on its promises to voters around Brexit. The UK left the EC at the end of January, and as I write, negotiations are beginning on the future trade relationship with Europe. The Prime Minister has said that he wants everything finalised in these negotiations by the end of the year. We don’t yet know how these will talks will unfold, but we continue to push specifically for
- The EC health insurance card to continue beyond the end of the year
- Ensuring that workers from the EC who provide care in the NHS and Social Care system are able to come to and remain in the UK on an ongoing basis
- The Government to ensure that all British residents in the European Union should retain their current benefits and pensions during and after the negotiations.
At the same time, talks on a possible trade relationship with the USA are also underway. There have already been stories in the media about protecting the NHS, drug prices, and standards in food production. Any future deal will of course have an impact on the UK economy and in turn the funds available to support older people and services that they use.
CSPA’s General Secretary, Lisa Ray and Assistant General Secretary, David Luxton, meeting with Stephen Morgan MP
Assistant General Secretary, David Luxton, meeting with Rob Roberts MP
The new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, will shortly present his first budget. Timings for this appear to currently be under review due to the unknown consequences of the Corona virus. Together with our partners in Later Life Ambitions we have launched an online survey to ask members what is most important to them in the upcoming budget. If you would like to take part, please click on this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QDHR8V5
At this time of year members of the Executive Council are getting ready to travel around the UK to speak to Alliance Groups and Branches about the work we have been doing at a national level. We enjoy meeting members and hearing their concerns, ideas and answering questions where possible. Many groups are unfortunately struggling to secure volunteers to take on committee roles. The Alliance’s Organisation and Recruitment Committee has been working on ideas to help groups to ease the difficulties faced. This seems to be a common problem for many membership and volunteer organisations and we are grateful to those who give their time and efforts to the Alliance.
CSPA meeting with the Cabinet Office
Meeting with the Cabinet Office
The GS, AGS and John Jarvis, Secretary Administration, continue to meet regularly with Cabinet Office officials to talk about Civil Service Pensions and to try and secure the best service possible for our members through the pension administrator, MyCSP. Some of the issues discussed with them at the end of January included the legal advice that the Alliance had taken on the Limitation Act ( impacting how far back the pensions administrator can go where a pension overpayment has occurred) Reviews of pensions in payment and upcoming reviews of records of deferred pensions. Our campaign on Lifetime Survivor Benefits which we are now taking into Parliament, and the implications of the Mc Cloud judgement, whereby all Public Service Pension Schemes must ensure that no one has been treated unfairly due to their age during the transition to new Pension Schemes from April 2015.
The Alliance has been monitoring rapidly unfolding developments in news of the Coronavirus. Currently, it is business as usual for us, but this will be kept under review.
We understand that some members may be feeling concerned. The situation is very changeable and we advise all members, their family and friends, to keep themselves informed by listening to the news and checking government and NHS guidance, which can be found at these links:
It is most important to look after your health and those around you. The basic way you can do this is to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose or eyes and if you cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or with your elbow. Throw the tissue away in a bin immediately.
If you feel unwell with the symptoms of the virus, which are similar to flu, with a dry persistent cough, NHS England advises that you DO NOT go to the GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, but instead call telephone number 111.
Getting help in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
Scotland: call your GP surgery or call 111 if your surgery is not open
Wales: call 111 (if available in your area) or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47
Northern Ireland: call 0300 200 7885
Alternatively go online to the 111 Corona virus service here: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
Making Cities More Age-Friendly
With a growing pensioner population, politicians and policymakers have been looking at changes that are needed to make Cities more `age-friendly`. Alliance representatives Mike Sparham and Sylvia Smith from the Lewisham Group and Linda Ridgers-Waite from the Inner London Group, together with the AGS, David Luxton, recently attended a meeting at London`s City Hall organised under the direction of the Mayor’s Office; Age UK; and Positive Ageing in London. The event followed a series of seminars and other events to respond to the World Health Organisation’s agenda for `Age Friendly Cities`. Further information can be found by clicking this link:
The aim behind the initiative is to create an Action Plan for London to be built into all planning policy that takes full account of the needs of older people. As many of the policy themes apply across all towns and cities the issues raised are of wider relevance to the Alliance`s wider campaigns to address issues affecting older people.
There are 8 domains in the plan for ‘Making Cities Age Friendly’ as set out below, under which specific policy Action points are being agreed:
Respect and Social Inclusion
Communication and Information
Civic, Cultural and Social Participation
Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
Health and Social Care
Employment and Skills
A long list of Action points have been agreed under each domain heading and will be included in a report to be published after the London Mayoral election in May. The Alliance is closely monitoring developments and how the list of action points can be used in our wider campaigning through Late Life Ambitions.
Working with Age UK
We continue to work with AGE UK on issues that matter to older people. You can sign their Make Care Fair petition online here campaigns.ageuk.org.uk
TV Licence Campaign
The withdrawal of free TV licences for those over 75 years old has caused an outcry. The Government however has shown no signs of taking back control of this benefit, but has instead told the BBC to “cough up” and pay for it. Letters will be issued to those who are now expected to pay in April, with details of how to spread costs and if they qualify,apply for pension credit. It is predicted that the upturn in applications for pension credit ( which gives a right to continue to receive a free TV licence) may be around10% of those already in receipt- this will wipe out any savings made by the Government in passing on responsibility for this benefit to the BBC! The protests on this will continue. It cannot be right that a benefit brought in the supplement the poor level of state pension is allowed to disappear.
Red Button Service
The BBC has postponed a decision to discontinue its red button service, which was brought in to replace Ceefax in 1999. The service is simply accessed through the red button on the TV remote and provides information on local headlines, football scores, weather and travel news. This service is valuable to those who are not online. We will be meeting with the BBC shortly to explain why this service must continue. You can help us to support the campaign by writing to the BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall, BBC, Broadcasting House,Portland Place,London WC1A 1AA
Keep well, we hope that you have found this latest edition of the newsletter interesting. We will be back in touch again soon!
PSPC UPDATE – CHANCELLOR`S ECONOMIC STATEMENT 8 JULY 2020
As you will know Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunakdelivered a Summer Economic Update in the House of Commons today, in which he outlined the Government’s A Plan for Jobs in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. Please find a summary of items of interest below and the A Plan for Jobs document in full here.
There was nothing on pensions or anything that appears to directly impact on public service pensioners, or wider impact on older people, however there were a number of announcements focusing on youth employment, which may be of interest from an intergenerational fairness perspective. I have also listed a number of other key points below, which I thought may be of interest to affiliated organisations.
- A new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create new, high-quality, subsidised 6-month work placements for young people. Those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment will be eligible. The Government will fund 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions, which employers will be able to top up, for new Kickstart roles.
- £32 million of additional funding will be invested in the National Careers Service over the next two years. This will mean that 269,000 more people in England will receive personalised advice on training and work.
- £111 million is being invested in tripling traineeships in 2020-21. The Government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience at a rate of £1,000 per trainee. The Government will also improve provision and expand eligibility for traineeships to people with Level 3 qualifications and below.
- The Government will introduce a new £2,000 payment to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire under age 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 until 31 January 2021. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
- The Government will expand DWP intensive support to young jobseekers aged 18-24 in the Intensive Work Search group in Universal Credit.
- £895 million will be provided to double the number of work coaches in Jobcentre Plus before the end of the financial year across Great Britain.
- Up to £95 million will be provided this year to expand the Work and Health Programme in Great Britain to introduce additional voluntary support in the autumn for those on benefits that have been unemployed for more than 3 months.
Job Retention Bonus
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will wind down as planned in October.
- The Job Retention Bonus Scheme will incentivise firms to keep on their furloughed workers. UK employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31 January 2021.
- Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit, which is £520 a month, on average, between the end of the CJRS and the end of January 2021.
- Payments will be made from February 2021 and further details will be announced by the end of July.
Infrastructure and Investment
- The government will provide £900 million for shovel ready projects in England in 2020-21 and 2021-22 to drive local growth and jobs. This could include the development and regeneration of key local sites and investment in local connectivity. Funding will be provided to Mayoral Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.
- The government will accelerate £96 million of investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year.
- The government will invest £100 million to deliver 29 local road maintenance upgrades across England in 2020-21. This is in addition to the planned £1.5 billion for filling potholes, resurfacing roads and improving local highway infrastructure.
- The Government will provide £10 million for improving the reliability and capacity of the Manchester Rail Network.
- The Government will temporarily increase the zero-rate band of residential Stamp Duty Land Tax from £125,000 to £500,000. This will take effect from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. This will apply in England and Northern Ireland.
- A £2 billion Green Homes Grant will be introduced providing at least £2 for every £1 that homeowners and landlords spend on making their homes more energy efficient, up to £5,000 per household.
- The Green Homes Grant will fully fund energy efficiency measures up to £10,000 per household for those on the lowest incomes.
- The Government will establish a new Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, helping social landlords improve the least energy-efficient social rented homes. The Government has announced a £50 million demonstrator project in 2020-21 to decarbonise social housing.
Hospitality and Tourism
- The Government will introduce the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme. This will entitle every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal, at any participating restaurant, café, pub or other eligible food service establishment.
- The discount can be used an unlimited amount of times and will be valid Monday-Wednesday for any eat-in meal (including on non-alcoholic drinks) for the entire month of August. Participating establishments will be fully reimbursed for the 50% discount within 5 working days.
- From 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021, the VAT for supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises across the UK will be reduced from 20% to 5%
- The same cut in VAT will also apply to accommodation and admission to attractions across the UK from 15 July 2020, to 12 January 2021.
It is expected that tax, borrowing, and spending plans will be announced in the Autumn statement in early October.
13th July 2020
Please find attached a letter that I have sent to the Chair of the BBC Board, David Clementi, in response to his announcement last Thursday 9 July that the free tv licence concession for the over-75`s not claiming pension credits would end from 1 August.
PSPC are continuing to campaign on this important issue and we are monitoring the current House of Commons DCMS Committee on the TV licence ahead of their oral evidence session on Public Service Broadcasting.
Public Service Pensioners` Council
16th July 2020
To: All PSPC Affiliated organisations
HM Treasury has today published the anticipated consultation document on the broad options to remedy the age-discrimination Court of Appeal judgment in relation to the 2015 public service pension scheme reforms.
The consultation document can be accessed by following the link above and is also attached as a PDF for ease of reference.
Following the Court of Appeal judgment in December 2018, the Government has been considering remedies to address the age-discrimination identified in the policy of transitional protection that was part of the 2015 reforms to public service pension schemes. This consultation sets out the government’s proposals for addressing this discrimination along with the government’s plans for the future. The consultation begins today (16 July) and will close on 11 October 2020. Whilst each public service pension scheme will require different remedies to the age-discrimination, the broad options set out in the consultation will be similar in each scheme.
The PSPC Executive Committee will consider the broad options in consultation document at its next meeting, taking account of affiliates views and the different remedies that will be required for each of the main public sector schemes.
Government Announcement on Cost-Capping Review
The Government has also announced today how it intends to proceed with the 2016 actuarial Cost-Capping review which was paused last year following the McCloud. A copy of the announcement is also attached as a PDF for ease of reference. The key announcement is as follows:
“When the cost control mechanism was established, it was agreed that it would only consider costs that affect the value of the schemes to members (a ‘member cost’). Addressing the discrimination identified in the McCloud and Sargeant judgments involves increasing the value of schemes to members; the costs associated with this therefore fall into the ‘member cost’ category. As a ‘member cost’, this will be considered as part of the cost control element of the valuations process. HM Treasury will set out in the Directions the technical detail of how these costs should be taken into account in the cost control element of the valuations process. By taking into account the increased value of public service pensions as a result of ‘McCloud remedy’, scheme cost control valuation outcomes will show greater costs than otherwise would have been expected. The government will consider how best to take forward the cost control mechanism outcomes for each scheme once the detail of these is known”
Further PSPC updates on both issues will be issued during the course of the Treasury consultation.
Public Service Pensioners` Council (PSPC)
SPRING BUDGET 2020 HIGHLIGHTS
Public Service Pensioners Council Letter
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his Budget for 2020, a copy of the Budget Statement is attached for your information. During his speech he outlined a number of measures the Government are putting in place to safeguard against the impacts of Coronavirus on the economy. Other themes included large increases in spending and “levelling up” investment across the country. As expected, the Budget included next to nothing on social care but a welcome inclusion was the commitment to bring legislation forward to protect access to cash.
Alongside the Budget the Government also published the anticipated consultation on reforming RPI methodology. A copy of the Consultation Document is also attached, but you will see that the consultation questions are restricted to the impact on gilts of removing RPI, whereas the focus of PSPC is on the inconsistency of using RPI for regulated price increases yet use CPI for pension and benefit increases. The consultation does provide the opportunity to comment more widely on fixing the flaws in the methodology used in RPI and need for an accurate and reliable indicator of inflation that is applied consistently. For background information on this issue please refer to the PSPC Update issued on 10 September 2019.
Please find a summary of relevant key points from the Budget below:
- The tapered annual allowance thresholds will each be raised by £90,000, which means that from 2020-21 the “threshold income” will be £200,000, so individuals with income below this level will not be affected by the tapered annual allowance;
- This will mean that the taper no longer affects 98% of consultants and 96% of GPs;
- The annual allowance will only begin to taper down for individuals who also have an “adjusted income” above £240,000;
- For those on the very highest incomes, the minimum level to which the annual allowance can taper down will reduce from £10,000 to £4,000 from April 2020. This reduction will only affect individuals with total income (including pension accrual) over £300,000;
- The lifetime allowance, the maximum amount someone can accrue in a registered pension scheme in a tax-efficient manner over their lifetime, will increase in line with CPI for 2020-21, rising to £1,073,100.
- The Government will bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long-term.
- £50m to improve accessibility at 12 stations.
- The Government reaffirmed that they will remove hospital car parking fees in England for those in greatest need.
Public Service Pensioners Council
Please support the PSPC General Election Campaign. Click below to download our Manifesto and Template letter to Parliamentary candidates.
- PSPC 2017 General Election Manifesto
- PSPC Template Letter to Parliamentary Candidates
- General Secretary Brief Note of AGM May 2017
- PSPC Camapigns Update May 2017
The purpose of this post is to tell you how you and your members can get involved with the PSPC General Election Campaign. Those of you who attended the PSPC AGM will have heard our plans. They are outlined more fully in the attached Campaigns Update and Brief note of the AGM.
The Council would very much appreciate the help of constituent organisations in contacting as many candidates as possible, whilst they are campaigning for votes. We want whoever is elected to be in no doubt about what we require of the next Government.
Attached to this email you will find a template letter for use by your members to write or email local parliamentary candidates. The latest version of the PSPC manifesto is also attached. These documents can also be downloaded from the PSPC website at the following link: http://publicservicepensioners.org.uk/
The template letter outlines the PSPC campaign and poses questions to candidates on the following issues:
- The Triple Lock, a good level of state pension, and a fair method of indexation for public sector pensions
- Universal Pensioner Benefits
- Pensions for Life for those widow(ers) who remarry or cohabit
- Uprating of state pensions in the EU post Brexit
Any member who does not know who is standing for election in their constituency can access https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/. This site gives details and contact information of local candidates when a postcode is entered. (Please note that this site is being updated as candidates are announced).
It is important that we get our campaign message out to as many prospective parliamentary candidates as possible.
I hope that you will strongly encourage your members, in the short time available, to ask the questions PSPC have posed, by letter, email and/or in person.
I would be interested to see copies of any responses received, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your support!
CSPA Group Circulars
- HQ Group Circular 811 Dec 2014
- HQ Group Circular 810 Dec 2014
- HQ Group Circular 805 July 2014
- CSPA Briefing Transparency Of Lobbying Non-Party Campaigning And Trade Union Adminstration Bill – Update
- HQ Group Circular 757 Oct 2011
- HQ Group Circular 758 Nov 2011
Public Service Pensioners’ Council
- PSPC Secs Campaigns Update December 2017
- PSPC second letter to Liz Truss on inflation index December 2017
- PSPC Campaigns Update – August 2016
- PSPC Campaigns Update – May 2016
- PSPC Campaigns Update – October 2015
- PSPC Campaigns Update – January 2015
- PSPC – Forces Pension Society success on suspension of pension on remarriage or cohabitation – November 2014
- PSPC Campaigns Update – October 2014
- PSPC Manifesto for Public Service Pensioners 2015
- Group Letter to Lord Freud – November 2013
- Group Letter to MS – November 2013
- PSPC Campaigns Update – November 2013
- PSPC Campaigns Update – September 2013
- Age-related Personal Tax Allowances Briefing – September 2013
- Age-related personal tax allowances lobbying letter – September 2013
- Inflation Latest Figures
- Key Points Included in the Autumn Statement 3 December 2014
- Inflation Latest Figures
- Later Life Ambitions General Election 2015
- Tax Pension and Benefit Changes 2014-2015
- Number 92 – Nov 2012 – Pension increases for 2013
- Number 84 – Feb 2012
- Number 77 – Nov 2011
- Number 72 – Jul 2011
- Number 71 – Jun 2011
- Number 70 – Jun 2011
- Number 69 – Apr 2011
- Number 68 – Apr 2011
- Number 67 – Mar 2011
- Number 66 – Mar 2011
- Number 65 – Jan 2011
- Number 64 – Nov 2010
- Number 63 – Nov 2010
- Number 62 – Oct 2010
- Number 61 – Oct 2010
- Letter to Danny Alexander MP on Indexation of Public Service Pensions