After several months of discussion regarding the detail, scheme design and operation of the reformed Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) 2015, ATL has submitted evidence to the DfE in response to its consultation on implementation.
The consultation covers everything from how benefits will be earned to the formation of a pension board that will oversee the governance of the new scheme from 2015.
ATL has published a response to the government's consultation on the implementation of the reformed TPS in 2015.
TPS contribution rates
The contribution rates for 2013-14 for members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) in England and Wales have been announced.
ATL has pushed hard for the best result for our members. ATL still has major concerns over the pension contribution rates for 2013-14, especially the impact they will have on younger teachers who face student loan and tuition fee repayments.
ATL has also secured agreement from the government that it will monitor opt-out rates in the scheme as a result of the contribution increases. ATL will demand the government take action if opt-out rates threaten the scheme's health.
The government has also agreed to monitor the impact of its changes on certain groups of teachers including young, disabled and part-time workers.
Public Sector Pensions Act
The act provides the statutory basis for the reforms of the Teachers' Pension Scheme and Local Government Pension Scheme. Prior to the public sector pensions bill becoming an act, ATL had some concerns which formed our evidence to the bill committee:
- that the government has included an option for the public sector pension schemes to cease to be defined benefit schemes and instead become defined contribution schemes
- that any future increase in the state pension age and normal pension age will apply retrospectively to members' past service
- for the first time, a member's benefits may be revalued down as well as up if inflation is negative.
Through negotiation and targeted campaigning, certain concessions were gained before the bill received royal assent.
Michael Gove has confirmed in writing that the government will not worsen the TPS by replacing defined benefit with defined contribution, but that it would follow the recommendation of the Hutton Commission to maintain defined benefit schemes for all public sector workers. Although ATL would have preferred this to be included in the act, the written assurance does help to reduce concerns.
House of Lords amendments to the bill mean there are now protections against retrospective changes contained in the act. These do not specifically apply to retirement age, but do apply to changes to career averaging, contribution rates and benefit accrual rates. If any of those are to be changed then there must be consultation with the unions.
Finally, ATL recognises that the likelihood of pensions in the future being decreased as a result of negative inflation is very small. Furthermore, due to ATL's campaigning, further amendments have been passed in the Lords to protect against downward revaluation and more powers have been given to the House of Commons to consider, consult and scrutinize any such recommendation in the future.
Negotiations in Northern Ireland are ongoing and ATL is pushing hard for the best result for members, along similar lines to the scheme negotiated for England and Wales.
Negotiations with the Scottish Government are ongoing and ATL is pushing hard for the best result for members, along similar lines to the scheme negotiated for England and Wales.
The new look LGPS was agreed in summer 2012, with overwhelming support from unions and employers. The consultations to approve the regulations and operational details are largely completed with further consultation on future Governance to close at end August 2013.