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Pensions black hole warning as Uplift recruits opt out

Uplift officers are quitting police pension schemes due to bad advice and affordability.
Published - 08/10/2021 By - Chris Smith

New officers are failing to sign up for their police pension scheme because they are being told it isn’t worth it or can’t afford the monthly pay-in costs.

Scheme board members across the country are reporting that a significant number of the Uplift cohort are not signing up despite the pension being one of the traditional attractions of the job.

Data from pension boards has revealed 20 per cent of new joiners are opting out the scheme.

Two reasons are being cited: informal advice from colleagues that the reformed pension scheme won’t deliver the same benefits as past schemes and the costs of paying in while meeting living costs on a salary of around £24,000 a year.

Some are being told that the new pension “isn’t worth it”.

PC Lee Broadbent, who has been leading part of the pensions challenge against the government is among those raising concern over the impact for both officers and the taxpayer.

He told Police Oracle: “I would never tell anybody don’t sign up for a pension. Even the reformed scheme is still a significantly better product than what is being offered in the pensions market.

“If you’re joining now, it’s a great pension. I understand the issues; it does come down to cost with £300 a month at a low-wage point. We are going to see issues if this carries on.”

Police pension advisers have also revealed that they are being met with flat refusals from new recruits to start saving for retirement.

Many are saying they are prepared to fall back on the state pension.

Ian Pollitt CBE, Independent Chair Metropolitan Police Pension Board and Independent Chair SW Region Police Pension Board, told a recent Police Federation meeting that trouble is being stored up.

He said: “The opt-out rate is a real worry. I am nervous of some of the figures I see bandied about. We need to find out how do we communicate with 25-year-old constables that it is worth spending money on pensions.”

If exit rates continue unchecked, there will be an extra cost to plug the hole in funds for those who have stayed in.

PC Broadbent said: “It becomes more costly to the taxpayer to maintain in the long term. That’s why it’s better we do something about this now.”

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