No ifs, no buts - our firefighters deserve a fair pension...
Caroline: Forcing firefighters to work to 60 has serious implications for their health - and serious implications for Public safety
CAROLINE has dubbed Coalition plans to raise the firefighters’ pension age to 60 as ‘deeply flawed’.
Caroline was among the first MPs to sign the motion triggering today’s Parliamentary debate on the proposals.
She will vote against the Government’s Firefighters Pension Regulation Scheme, which seeks to impose a retirement age of 60 on firefighters, up from the current age of 55.
She said: “On behalf of those at Preston Circus watch, Brighton and Hove’s other fire stations and all firefighters up and down the country, I’m voting against the Firefighters Pensions Scheme being imposed by the Coalition.”
On today’s vote, she said: “I very much hope that even if there isn’t a majority of MPs prepared to stand up for firefighters here in the House today, Ministers will start listening to the evidence and to firefighters' representatives, in order to draw up an alternative scheme that better protects us all.”
Caroline called Government insistence that 100% of firefighters will be able to work to 60 “very misleading”.*
Evidence suggests that at least two-thirds of current firefighters would be unable to maintain the fitness level required to work to 60. They’d therefore fail fitness tests - losing their jobs and their pensions.
Caroline said: “Firefighting is physically very demanding - and damaging to the human body.
“Forcing firefighters to work until 60 has serious implications for their health - which in turn has serious implications for public safety.
“The Coalition’s continued cuts and meddling with our frontline services is dangerous and economy flawed. These services are critical to the safety of Brighton and Hove’s residents. We must be proactively protective of them – there can be no shortcuts to saving lives.”
She added: “Our firefighters make tremendous sacrifices in their daily work. There are no ifs or buts - they deserve a fair pension.”
"Our firefighters make tremendous sacrifices in their daily work. There are no ifs or buts - they deserve a fair pension"
Under their original pension scheme, firefighters born after April 1967, who joined the service from April 1987 onwards, were expected to retire after 30 years’ service, at the age of 50. The new proposal expects them to retire aged 60 to receive a full pension - an additional 10 years’ working.
Caroline said: “The firefighters I’ve spoken understand the old pension scheme is unsustainable with the changing economy – but these proposals are staggeringly inappropriate and, as one local crew member put it: ‘bewildering and deeply flawed’”.
She added: “It’s deeply disappointing that the Government has been so unwilling to work with firefighters to negotiate a fair pensions’ scheme.”
Caroline paid tribute to local fire crews and Union members.
She said: “I want to pay tribute to Fire Brigade Union members and their supporters in my Brighton Pavilion constituency, who’ve demonstrated a firm commitment to public safety in their campaigning against changes to their pension scheme, as well as against public spending cuts.”
Note to Editors:
For more about today’s debate, click here
* The Williams Report states that in the worst case scenario, 85-92% of firefighters would not be able to maintain fitness between ages 55 and 60. Even the best case predicts 15-23% would not make it aged 55-60. The best case prediction assumes a BMI of 20 or less – better than many professional athletes.