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Tuesday 27 August 2019

FDA calls on Cabinet Office for greater pension flexibility

Graham Martin

The FDA has called on the Government to grant senior civil servants the same pension flexibility it has promised other public servants.

Following reports of doctors turning down shifts to avoid punitive taxation, the NHS has made a proposal offering these staff members full flexibility over the amount they put in their pension pot. FDA Assistant General Secretary Lucille Thirlby has written to Rupert McNeil – the Government Chief People Officer – to ask that this policy be extended to senior civil servants.

Senior civil servants’ tax-free allowances for pension contributions have been cut repeatedly over the past decade, from £255,000 to as little as £10,000.

Though, as Thirlby wrote in her letter, “the FDA has been raising the continuing difficulties our members face in relation to the allowances and has sought the introduction of a 50:50 scheme within the Civil Service Pension Scheme", she told McNeil that "the Scheme Advisory Board has not moved on this matter.” The Assistant General Secretary also reiterated the Cabinet Office’s failure to respond to the Senior Salary Review Body’s recent recommendation that “that pension flexibility should be examined as a matter of urgency with the aim of reducing the perverse incentives that senior public sector employees may be facing”.

“We note that the Treasury has said it will review how the tapered annual allowance affects the delivery of public services such as the NHS,” Thirlby wrote, “but will want the Cabinet Office to advocate on behalf of its employees to ensure the issues affecting civil servants are made known to the Treasury.”

Speaking about the letter to Civil Service World, Thirlby said that “the flexibility we seek for senior civil servants would come at no cost to their employers.”

“We're simply asking for a shift in policy,” she said, “that could make a huge amount of difference to our members as they save for their future.

"The SCS are working tirelessly to prepare the country for the challenges ahead – without being paid overtime, and while weathering attacks from all sides of the political spectrum. Now is a perfect time for the Cabinet Office to show these civil servants that their efforts are appreciated by implementing these changes, which will help them in their retirement after their years of dedication to public service."

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