Home Office circular 039 / 2004
A. Amendments to Police Pensions Regulations 1987
1. Annex B of HOC 3/2004 provided a full list of changes to the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 relating to the new system of Police Medical Appeal Boards, which were introduced administratively with effect from 10 November 2003. This circular
confirms that the Regulations have now been amended by the provisions set out in Part 1 of the Schedule to Statutory Instrument 2004 No.1491- refer to www.hmso.gov.uk **to access the SI.
- There are other changes not mentioned in Annex B of HOC 3/2004 which you should also note:
- Regulation 3 is a transitional provision enabling the remaining appeals referred to single referees to continue to be considered under the old system. It should be noted that the regulation also allows the Secretary of State to switch such cases into the new system. We intend to take such action in any case which is not making reasonable progress. Our aim is that, unless there are exceptional reasons, all appeals referred to a single referee should have been completed by 10 November 2004 or, if that target will not be achieved, will have been referred to a medical appeal board by that date.
- Regulations H1 and H2 have been tidied up to remove additional numbers such as H2(2A) which were introduced in 2003 to allow for the new procedures relating to cases involving the consideration of permanent disablement to run in parallel with the old procedures which were retained for cases not involving such consideration (eg cases involving injury awards on their own). The old procedures no longer apply except as allowed by Regulation 3, under which a single referee who is considering an injury award case involving a certificate will still be able to issue a fresh certificate.
B. Aon Health Solutions - change of name and ownership
- Home Office Circular 52/2003 confirmed that the contract for processing medical appeals was awarded to Aon Health Solutions (AHS). Following the acquisition of AHS from its parent company Aon Ltd by Capita Group, from 8 April 2004 AHS has been known as Capita Health Solutions (CHS). Police authority personnel with responsibility for medical appeals were notified at the time. The Home Office would like to reiterate that the change of ownership will not affect the services already in place.
C. Capita SMPs
**It has come to our attention that some Police Authorities may be using SMPs who are employed by separate divisions of the Capita Group, e.g. Capita Business Solutions. It could be argued that it is prejudicial to have the appeal board and the SMP share the same parent company. Without accepting at all that this would be the case, the Home Office considers that it is good practice to reduce the scope for challenges to appeal decisions. Police Authorities should not therefore use SMPs employed by any part of the Capita Group. Where a Capita SMP has started to consider a case under regulation H1, our advice is that Police Authorities begin the process again using a separate SMP if an H1 report has not yet been issued.
Where a report has been issued it is final and cannot be set aside unilaterally by the Police Authority. (Referral of the SMP’s decision, after an appeal had been made, to another SMP under H3 would not help either since the appeal would remain against the original decision unless the appeal was withdrawn following resolution of the issue.) It would be helpful if CHS could be informed if such cases go to appeal and of any existing appeal cases where Capita SMPs have been involved. The CHS contact for advice is either Jim Hughes or Nicola Kirby on 020 7309 1511.
D. Maternity/Parental leave
Home Office Circular 9/2000 set out new provisions for determining the pensionable status of unpaid maternity and sick leave. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Annex A to that HOC explained that with effect from 10 June 1994 the 14 weeks of statutory maternity leave would be reckonable for pension purposes whether or not that leave was paid or unpaid - ie no buy-back was necessary to make that period pensionable. Since then the period was extended to 18 weeks by SI 2003 No 27. Part 4 of the Schedule to SI 2004 No.1491 amends Regulation F1(1) and increases the period of maternity leave that counts as pensionable service from 18 weeks to 26 weeks. This applies to any period of maternity leave falling on or after 6 April 2003. Arrangements will need to be made to refund buy-back contributions paid to make pensionable any period of unpaid leave affected by this backdating. Contributions taken from pay are not affected.
Part 2 of the Schedule introduces the same arrangements for buying back unpaid parental leave as exist for unpaid maternity leave not falling within (what is now) the 26 week period. The guidance on buying back unpaid leave set out in Annex A to HOC 9/2000 applies to buying back unpaid parental leave. The suggested procedure explained in Annex B to the HOC should also be followed and the forms adapted for use in parental leave cases.
The provision for buying back unpaid parental leave is also backdated to 6 April 2003. In view of this backdating Regulation 4 sets out transitional provisions modelled on the provisions in SI 2000 No 843 for buying back past unpaid maternity and sick leave. Guidance on transitional arrangements is set out in paragraphs 37 to 42 of Annex A to HOC 9/2000. Please note that retired officers can benefit from this.
E. Qualifying period for transfer of service
- Paragraph 10 in Part 2 of the Schedule to SI 2004: No.1491 amends Regulation F10 to reduce from 2 years to 3 months the period of pensionable service that a member of the police pension scheme must accrue before becoming eligible for a transfer value from the Police Pension Scheme to his or her new pension scheme. This change takes effect from 1 July 2004. The change widens the scope for such transfers to cover pension arrangements which are not specifically an occupational or personal pension scheme. It still remains open to an officer to ask for the return of his or her contributions instead.
F. Regulation K4
- Part 3 of the Schedule to SI 2004 No.1491 corrects typographical errors in Regulation K4(1) (abatement of pension where a retired officer is re-engaged). The amendment is backdated to 1 April 2002 Part 3 of the Schedule to SI 2004 No.1491 corrects typographical errors in Regulation K4(1) (abatement of pension where a retired officer is re-engaged). The amendment is backdated to 1 April 2002.
G. British Transport Police
- We are now able to update you on the proposed bilateral agreement between the Police Pension Scheme and the British Transport Police Force Superannuation Fund (BTPFSF) on transfers between the Police Pension Scheme within England and Wales and the BTPFSF. The aim is for this Agreement to come into force on 1 August 2004 but with backdating provisions. The details are still subject to consultation. However, a draft of the Agreement, which sets out the proposed arrangements, is at Annex A. Please note that this draft is for information only and is subject to revision.
H. 30+ Scheme
- At the meeting of the Police Negotiating Board on 12 February 2004 it was agreed that the then Phase II of the 30+ scheme should be followed on 1 April 2004 by the final phase of the pilot (Phase III) which would apply in all forces in England & Wales.
Action points for forces
13. Following this agreement the Home Office contacted all forces to alert them to the need to make the 30+ scheme available in their area and to provide them with a copy of the PNB guidance on the scheme together with a Q&A sheet. The Home Office also asked each force to provide a contact point for further communications on the 30+ scheme since it is important that this initiative is given coordinated support throughout all forces in England and Wales. If forces require another copy or more information, or have still to notify the Home Office of their 30+ contact, they should get in touch with Ed Barnard (contact details in Section J of this circular).
Key points of 30+ and Status of PNB Guidance
14. The PNB Agreement of May 2002 included outline provisions for arrangements to give managers in the police service the scope to retain officers who are entitled to retire with maximum pension benefits where they wish to do so. Such arrangements would help to retain much needed skills and experience. This led to the establishment of the 30+ scheme in December 2002. The main points of the scheme are:
* Tax-free retirement lump sum under the police pension commutation provisions.
* Re-engagement at former rank and pay level with pension abatement lifted to allow for any replacement allowances lost on retirement to be made good.
* Access to Special Priority Payments and Competency Related Threshold Payments on the same basis as other officers.
The basic structure and take-up of the scheme were tested in Phase I schemes run by a small number of forces between December 2002 and 31 March 2003. Following an encouraging response from both managers and officers, the scheme moved to Phase II under which it was tested in more detail by a wider selection of forces between 1 April 2003 and 31st March 2004. A total of fifteen forces participated in Phase II. The results and feedback from these pilots was encouraging. Whilst the number of officers retained was relatively modest, this number is steadily increasing and there remains a significant level of interest amongst officers not on the scheme but who will soon become eligible. This has particularly been influenced by the recent completion of the round of Competency Related Threshold Payments.
The 30+ scheme is a valuable tool for forces as a means to retain experienced officers and it should be available to managers and officers in all forces in England & Wales. The national rollout of the 30+ scheme remains on a pilot basis because it is necessary to test further whether the benefits offered by the scheme are at the correct level to attract the optimum number of officers.
All participating forces involved in the pilots have been operating the 30+ scheme on an unfunded basis given that the scheme is broadly cost neutral.
The PNB Guidance on 30+ remains the definitive statement of the scheme until it is amended. There are two points of clarification to add, however:
- for the time being the scheme applies to officers returning to serve with the force from which they have retired. This will be reviewed by the PNB later this year.
- For forces outside the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police areas the lump sum death grant payable under 30+ is to be set at twice the pensionable pay of member of Police Staff (formerly civilian support staff) on spinal column point 31 of the National PSC salary rates.
As at 1st September 2003 under the National Police Staff Council (formerly the PSSC, Police Support Staff Council) this is a salary of £24,627 per annum, which would provide a lump sum of £49,254. National PSC salary rates are reviewed annually (the next review being due in September 2004), and forces should adjust the rate should accordingly, if appropriate, in line with spinal column point 31. The reason for this approach is explained in paragraph 19 below.
The amount of the Death in Service lump sum payment for 30+ officers has been a key issue during the pilot schemes. The PNB guidance incorporates a figure from West Midlands Police which at the time the guidance was issued was £23,500, (providing a lump sum of £47,000). Some forces followed this example whilst others used different figures. During discussions with forces during Phase II the general consensus was that the fairest approach would be to have a standard national figure outside London at least.
The PNB guidance has previously been sent to all forces in England & Wales as one of the scheme documents issued to forces prior to the launch of Phase III. If forces require another copy or more information on the scheme they can get in touch with Ed Barnard (see Section J for contact details).
I. Pensions increase and multiplier tables
- The Pensions Increase (Review) Order 2004 provided for public service pensions to be increased by 2.8% from 12 April 2004. Details of the increase were e-mailed to all police pensions administrators in January. Full details are given at Annex B for the record. Details of next year’s pension increase will be e-mailed in January 2005 to all police pensions administrators and we will consult on whether in future confirmation is also needed of this in a Home Office Circular or whether this can be posted, say, on a web site instead.
J. Contact points in the Police Pensions and Retirement Policy Section
- In HOC52/2001 we gave details of the staff in the Police Pensions and Retirement Policy Section. Details of the section are now as follows:
Mr John Gilbert (Head of Section)
020 7273 2990
Mr Tony Hendry
020 7273 4120
Mr Colin Phillips
020 7273 2821
020 7273 3107
Mr Ian Moir
020 7273 2814
Mr Ed Barnard
Miss Patricia Rooney
020 7273 3153
020 7273 3624
General Policy on the Police Pension Scheme
Proposals for/implementation of a new Police Pension Scheme for future entrants
Reform of Police Pensions Financing
Outstanding Medical Appeals (medical retirements) under single referee system
Policy and contract management for Police Medical Appeal Boards
Policy on ill health retirement
The 30+ Officer Retention Scheme
Transfer values, HMIC Pensions and secondment issues regarding Central Service
Revision of Commentary on Police Pensions Regulations
Policy and contract management for Police Pension AVC Scheme
Equal Opportunities - pension issues
Head of Police Pensions and Retirement Policy Section