The Fire Brigades Union today agreed to respond to the Government consultation on the future of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services in favour, with conditions, of a single service structure. Clearly jobs and conditions are of vital importance to the union and every method available will be considered in defence of our members if they are threatened by any of the processes.
We have indicated our preference for a single service option, at this time, in response to the consultation however we believe that it is the governance, standards and risks that matter and not the size and shape.
In order to be worthwhile, any proposed restructure must deliver the following:
- Improved local control room mobilisation services which maintain local knowledge and in line with existing structures
- Improved command and control on the incident ground with sufficient officers available locally able to attend and manage incidents who are suitably qualified and in line with the national role maps.
- Reduced fire deaths with objectives and mechanisms to achieve zero fire deaths
- Reduce fire injuries • Reduce firefighter deaths to zero
- Reduce firefighter injuries
- Continually reduce attendance times to incidents with appliances of sufficient numbers.
- Ensure 24/ 7 dedicated crewing of new dimensions and other special appliances
- A robust crewing arrangement conducive to National Response Standards.
- An improved National integrated equality framework
- No compulsory redundancies
In responding the FBU also urges the Minister to consider these principal issues:
- The fire service is unique in that it provides a UK response. It is not “one arm of local government”. Its role and method (and duty) is very different from purely local services such as other local government services provided by council’s.
- The national response which the service provides aims to save lives, homes, buildings businesses and infrastructure. We are an intrinsic part not just of national resilience but the security and protection of the nation.
- The fire and rescue service is already a high-performing service. It already multi-tasks.
- The people in the fire and rescue service, our members, the nation’s firefighters are not poorly paid, nor are they well-paid especially when considering the long hours, stresses and the risks they face alongside the skills sets and performance asked of them. Firefighters ask for nothing more than a fair deal and to not be treated as some kind of office dogsbody. Firefighters are can-do and will-do people. They need to be respected and rewarded accordingly. The FBU is well aware of the demands/suggestions for increased roles for the fire and rescue service. The FBU has an open mind to such matters and would be willing to explore any serious proposals to meet genuine demand. The general tests/ principles which the Union works to can be described as:
- Would any proposal detract from the ability for the FRS to carry out its current roles?
- Would the proposal damage or adversely affect the emergency service provision received by the public?
- Is the issue a serious matter rather than simply frivolous, or “flavour of the month”?
- All employees, including emergency service workers, have a right to be rewarded for the work they do, the skills they gain and demonstrate and changes to their working practices and contract. The principal mechanism for lasting reward is through pay rather than allowances.
- Is the proposal likely to create overload for a fire and rescue service (or any individual employee) due to insufficient resources including crewing/ employment numbers?
- Does the proposal place too much demand for an individual- there is a limit to how much multi-skilling a person can do to a high professional level?
- Is the fire and rescue service being rewarded for its extra responsibility or is it being asked to relieve the burden of another service with no additional funding?
- Are the personal safeguards in place for the individual employee and his/ her dependants including legal liabilities?
- Is the implementation proposal, if agreed, planned in a professional way?
- Are the right processes in place and those processes robust?: a. Generic Risk Assessment b. Risk reduction/ removal mechanisms c. Standard Operating Procedures d. Resources including people and equipment e. Training packages f. Training delivery mechanisms and schedules g. Assessment h. Refresher training and re-assessment regimes i. Exercises j. Reward mechanisms
For All Further Information Contact:
Robby Robertson – FBU Scotland EC Member Mobile: 07801-047601
John Duffy – FBU Scotland Secretary Mobile: 07801-047618
Alan Paterson – FBU Scotland Chair Mobile: 07801-047608
Jim Malone – FBU Scotland Organiser Mobile: 07801-047613
Paul Wilson – FBU Scotland Treasurer Mobile: 07766-314771
Fire Brigades Union officials are dismayed that the Cabinet Member for Fire and Community Safety, Councillor Barry Abraham, could today decide to close the Isle of Wight’s emergency 999 fire control room, without having taken the opportunity to be briefed by Isle of Wight (IOW) FBU officials about their significant professional concerns.
A formal invite to Cllr Abraham has been made by island FBU officials, an invite which was also repeated live during the Ian Mac show on Vectis Radio. Regrettably, Cllr Abrahams has failed to respond despite repeated attempts due to the importance of the issue at hand.
Pete Mawhood, IOW FBU chair, said “This morning a petition with over 1800 signatories has been hand delivered to Cllr Abraham to ‘Save the Isle of Wight Fire Control Centre’, this includes over 100 signatories from serving Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service firefighters (wholetime, retained and control), officers and civilian staff and is still ongoing.
“The support we have seen from local people has been amazing. They have been calling in to local radio stations and have been stopping firefighters in the street to tell us they do not want to see the closure of their local emergency 999 control room and cannot believe how undemocratic this process appears to be.
“We therefore implore all other county councillors to take up the offer to hear our real, professional concerns and we are extremely disappointed that such a critical decision could be made today without input from our professional members or island residents”.
Paul Watts, FBU regional control rep, said “Firefighters have not had the opportunity to formally comment on the proposals nor have their views been sought by senior managers or the IOW Council. So with so many firefighters adding their names to the petition it reflects our deeply held concerns from within the fire service at the prospect of moving the Fire Control to the mainland. Firefighters strongly oppose the plan.
He added “The loss of vital local knowledge could mean a delay to the mobilisation of fire appliances in response to emergencies. It goes without saying that any delay due to uncertainty could, in a critical situation, have life-threatening consequences.
Andy Cooper IOW Control Rep 07889 182762
Paul Watts FBU Regional Control 07917 065869
Further info can be found at http://www.fbur12.org.uk
27th April 2011
TO: BRIGADE SECRETARIES
Cc REGIONAL PENSION CO-ORDINATORS
You will be aware that Firefighters’ Pension Scheme Circular 6/2011 introduced new uprated commutation factors, for the 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme, to be implemented from 19th April 2011. In addition to this it also highlighted that in some circumstances an individual wishing to commute their annual pension may now incur a tax liability.
The purpose of this circular is to introduce a simple calculator which has been designed to highlight to an individual the maximum lump sum available without incurring tax liability. (There may be some individuals who still decide to commute the maximum despite the tax liability. The purpose of the calculator is not to influence any decision just to provide information to support any assessment).
It is very important however that Individual check all these details with their pension administrator before making any decision.
It should also be noted that if you have a commutation factor less than 20 or retired using the rule of 75, where your lump sum has been restricted to provide an amount no greater than two and a quarter times the full amount of pension before commutation, you will not reach the tax threshold and you do not need to use the calculator.
The calculator will shortly be available on the FBU website http://www.fbu.org.uk/ along with the new commutation factors, with instructions on how it should be used.
FBU Condemn Release Of Delegated Decision Report On Island’s Fire Control Being Outsourced To Surrey Fire Service
Thursday 21 April 2011
Fire Brigades Union officials have strongly condemned the release of the Delegated Decision Report, issued on Friday 15th April, which recommends the outsourcing of the answering of emergency fire calls to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s control room in Reigate.
The decision would see Island council tax payers paying £216,000 for emergency 999 calls being answered by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service some 70 miles from the Island with the loss of vital local knowledge.
The paper invites comments from Councillors over a ten day period; however, with two weekends and two Bank Holidays in this period there are effectively only four working days to comment on the dangerous proposal.
The very people put at risk by the recommended decision, Island residents, businesses and visitors, are denied the chance to respond or comment on the report.
Pete Mawhood, Chair of the Isle of Wight FBU said “It is appalling and concerning that such a critical decision which could adversely affect public and firefighter safety is being forced through without meaningful dialogue with Island resident’s, businesses, visitors and the FBU.
He added an invitation to the Cabinet Member for Fire and Community Safety, Councillor Barry Abraham, to delay the decision until such time as a meaningful meeting can take place between himself and the FBU over their concerns about the plans and the inaccurate report that the recommendation is based upon.
Pete Mawhood, Chair, Isle of Wight FBU: 01983 525 121 (via Fire Control)
Andy Cooper IOW Control Rep 07889 182 762
Paul Watts FBU Regional Control 07917 065 869
Regional and Isle of Wight FBU Officials will be available during the afternoon of Thursday 21 April for media and press interviews on the island; please contact us if you wish to arrange an interview: email@example.com.
Notes for Editors:
- The Isle of Wight Council are proposing to close the Isle of Wight Fire Control Centre in Newport, Isle of Wight, with the calls answered by the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Control (Reigate, Surrey).
- Councillors were only given twenty-four hours notice of the additional items on the agenda for the Full Council meeting, including the issue of the Island’s Fire Control Centre back in September 2010.
- The Outline Business Case (September 2010) and Full Business Case (March 2011) were published and no consultation with island residents or businesses has taken place.
- The latest delegated decision report (published Friday 15 April 2011) states that the cutover date for transfer to Fire Control Centre in Reigate, Surrey is 30 September 2011. The publication gave ten days for Councillors to comment, however, with two weekends and two bank holidays there are only 4 working days to comment in reality.
Documents attached for downloading in PDF format:
- Press release
- IOW Control Transfer Business Case
- IOW Control Transfer Business Case Equality Impact Assessment
- IOW Control Transfer Business Case Committee Report
- IOW Control Transfer Business Case Delegated Decision Report
Save Isle of Wight Fire Control Campaign website: http://www.firewontwait.com/
20 April 2011
Forty firefighters have written warnings hanging over them for daring to raise concerns with local politicians about frontline cuts and the pay and expenses of their fire chiefs. And now these latest revelations seem to explain why fire chiefs took such a heavy-handed approach.
The firefighters were accused of defamation in their discipline cases for raising privately with local politicians their concerns about the spending decisions and pay of their chief fire officer, David Johnson. Now, the same concerns have been published in the Daily Mail, as the result of a Freedom of Information request from the Conservative councillor for Brentwood, Councillor Quirk. Mr Johnson is alleged to have spent £20,000 of taxpayers’ money on moving out of the county, while planning £10 million cuts to services. He receives a £148,633 salary and £31,656 pension contribution a year, and is alleged to have claimed £3,704.60 towards new carpets, £3,466.93 for floor tiles and £324 for Laura Ashley curtains. Mr Johnson is also said to have claimed £8,250.77 in expenses since 2008, while seven senior managers put in claims of £46,000 in two years. One billed taxpayers for a £181 trip to an exclusive gentleman’s club.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, the Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, has asked why the chief fire officer of Essex should need money to move out of the county.
Neil Day, the Fire Brigades Union official for East Anglia, said today: “These figures, which the FBU cannot verify, come from FoI requests made by Conservative councillors in Brentwood, who are properly concerned about the cut of a full time fire crew from their local fire station.
“But we have been concerned for some time about the priorities of the Essex fire brigade management. Their pay and expenses seem to expand whilst they tell everyone else to tighten their belts and make cuts to frontline services.
“And it’s no surprise to us that the Brentwood councillor, Councillor Quirk, has faced such difficulty getting straight answers. In recent months more than forty firefighters have been disciplined for raising their concerns in confidence with politicians.
“Those firefighters were accused of defamation and now have written warnings hanging over them. It’s a crude way of keeping them quiet.
“If their private comments were defamatory, then we assume Mr Johnson will now take legal action against the Daily Mail and Mr Pickles. If he does not, we await his apology to our members.
Neil Day, FBU East Anglia Regional Office: 0137652 1521
Keith Handscomb, FBU executive member: 07730 435633
Download in PDF format
19 April 2011
TO: ALL MEMBERS
As part of our campaign challenging the cuts in the Fire Service and attacks on pay, conditions and pensions, the Executive Council has promised that it will take whatever steps it can to achieve our objectives – political, legal and industrial as necessary.
You will be aware of the Government’s decision to change the rate of indexation for public sector pensions from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with effect from 5 April 2011, which has caused a great deal of concern for FBU officials and members.
The matter has been discussed at recent Executive Council meetings where it was agreed in principle to proceed with a legal challenge subject to the usual considerations, primarily the prospects for the challenge being successful.
Following a discussion with our QC, on 28 February 2011, I submitted a pre-action letter outlining our concerns and highlighting the next steps that the FBU may be considering, which included a legal challenge. At that meeting we were also informed that other public sector unions were also considering the submitting of pre-action letters route, which later proved to be the case.
The FBU received a response to its pre-action letter on 7 April 2011 which, not unexpectedly, refuted the points raised. Following this a further meeting with our QC took place on 15 April 2011 convened by our solicitors, Thompsons. This meeting was attended by a number of unions including the FBU. The QC outlined the various strands of the challenge and gave his view on the potential success rates for each.
Following this meeting the FBU have confirmed that it will be submitting the necessary papers to the courts on the strands identified. Any such challenge needs to be submitted promptly. You will recognise however that there are no guarantees of success especially with a case with huge potential political ramifications.
It is pertinent to mention that we are aware of another challenge which has been lodged on narrower grounds (which are also included in our case) by the Police Federation, Prospect and the First Division Association. We wish these organisations every success with their challenge and will liaise with them where possible.
Members will be aware of the successes of the FBU and its legal representatives over the years on important cases such as this, including the Co-Responding case; the right to an ill-health pension where redeployment opportunities don’t exist; and the part-time worker status for Firefighters working the Retained Duty System.
A further circular to members will be issued when further information is available.
Download in PDF format
Firefighters Pension Scheme Circular 6/2011 – Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992 – Revised Commutation Factors
19th April 2011
TO: BRIGADE SECRETARIES
Cc REGIONAL PENSION CO-ORDINATORS
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS
Please find attached FPSC 6/2011 which advises FRAs on the revised commutation factors prepared by the Government Actuary for the purpose of calculating lump sums payable under Rule B7 of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992. These revised factors should be applied to members who retire on or after 19th April 2011.
Members and officials will note that these factors have increased despite the switch in indexation from Retail Price Index to Consumer Price Index. This is due to other factors such as the Government Actuary’s Department reassessing mortality rates and the change in the discount rate which was announced in the Budget on 23rd March 2011.
Members and officials need to be aware of the fact that this increase in factors may mean that in some instances an individual’s commuted lump sum may exceed the maximum permitted by HMRC and an individual should recognise this when deciding how much pension they wish to commute.
Further advice and information on this will be made available in the near future.
Yours in Unity,
Download circular in PDF format
Download FPSC 6/2011
Download FPSC Commutation Guidance April 2011
12th April 2011
TO: ALL RETAINED MEMBERS
C.c ALL WHOLETIME MEMBERS
Please find attached to this circular a “Frequently Asked Questions” guidance note regarding the Settlement.
I hope that members find the information useful.
Assistant General Secretary
RETAINED DUTY SYSTEM (PART TIME WORKERS SETTLEMENT) FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This FAQ sheet has been sent to branches. Whilst general information the RDS settlement including this FAQ site can be found on the FBU website, information regarding your claim and general the information can be found all in one place at the following website: http://www.retainedfirefighterclaims.org.uk/
FAQ- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Where do I find the address for Thompsons so I can send them my documentation?
The only documentation that should be used is the forms provided via Popularis. If you have a non standard claim you will need to provide evidence to substantiate the claim. Forms and support papers must be sent back to Popularis. Not Thompsons.
Individuals who are subsequently found to have valid claim will be contacted by Thompsons and informed of any revised arrangements. Until told to do otherwise, by Thompsons, please send material to Popularis.
2. I have contacted Popularis with some queries and thy have said they can’t assist me – is that correct?
Yes it is. Popularis are essentially acting as a “post office”. They are processing data making sure the right letters go out to members and then making sure that the responses are sorted and sent on to Thompsons.
3. I have already contacted Popularis and told them that I accept. That’s ok isn’t it?
Some members have written to say they will accept before they have seen the compensation calculation. Those members must g through the process. Popularis and Thompsons will only deal with correspondence in the prescribed manner. You must use the online system or, if you prefer, the hard-copy form sent to you by post.
4. I wasn’t a claimant in 2001 as I didn’t join the service until 2004. I left the service in 2008 and have been told by my mates that I might be due some money. Why have I not heard anything?
Unfortunately you won’t get any compensation under the Terms and Conditions settlement as you left the service before 30 June 2010 and were not a claimant. Early discussions with the employers indicated that we could have succeeded, but as the discussions continued we were not able to secure this element.
5. The biggest question for me is- do I have to pay my bounty payments back?
One of the first successes the FBU achieved in the negotiations was agreement that the employer would not try to recover the bounty payments. This agreement has been reached with the national employers.
In addition, agreement was reached that bounty payments will not be recovered by the FRS as part of the pension arrangements either.
6. Is signing to say I agree the settlement as a remedy for the case I lodged the same as saying that I agree to the calculation carried out by the FRS?
Whilst you might agree to the settlement terms, you may have a problem with the specific calculation that you have been provided with for your individual settlement. Whilst you are still challenging the accuracy of the compensation calculated by your FRS you should not sign or indicate agreement.
7. The Part Time Workers legal challenge was also about pensions. There are no details of the pension arrangements in the paperwork. What’s happening with the pensions?
The pension arrangements are being dealt with through separate discussions with CLG. It is a very different process. Once the negotiations finished they need to be written up and passed through the parliamentary process. This was delayed by a number of months due to the calling of the election (when new Bills or Statutory Instruments are suspended). There was a further delay as a result of the talks between the parliamentary parties to form a government and a further delay for the new Minister to be briefed on all the live issues on fire service matters. This process is back on track and has been for a short while.
8. I am content to sign to the Terms and Conditions settlement but I haven’t seen the details regarding the pensions. If I sign my agreement to the procedure and changes related to the Grey Book and compensation method, am I being asked to sign up blindly to the pension settlement?
Signing acceptance of the terms and conditions settlement does not mean that you will have signed agreement to the pension settlement.
This is fully understood by CLG, the Tribunal and is made clear in the agreement between the FBU and the national employers which will be submitted to Tribunal for ratification:
“This Agreement is not in settlement of the Pensions Claims which will be subject to a separate agreement between the FBU and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.”
9. I have received a letter saying that I am a claimant and asking if I agree to withdraw my claim. It was so long ago I can’t remember if submitted a claim or not. What should I do?
Don’t worry. If you sign the form toy say you agree, it will not adversely affect you at all.
10. Where can I access a copy of the revised Grey Book?
The Grey Book changes periodically. To locate the contents of the Grey Book and details of the amendments agreed with the employers’ side of the NJC, please go to the following webpage on the FBU website:
We will be promulgating a consolidated version of the contents of the Grey Book in the near future.
11. I have approached my local union officials and they have said that they can’t assist on this matter. Is that correct?
It is. The matter is a legal one and that is why the matter needs to be handled by Thompsons. In view of the quite tight time limits our officials have been asked not to intervene as this will only serve to create delays which may result in members losing money which they are entitled to. Moreover, the mechanism for handling the matter, ie the letters, the forms , the time limits and the processes are a part of the legal settlement reached with the employers which will taken to the Tribunal.
12. I currently work for two FRSs on a retained contract in each what can I expect to receive?
You will get two letter one from each FRS. You should deal with both separately.
13. I have received information that implies that the RFU won the case and also implies that the RFU and their lawyers will provide the representation. Is that correct?
No. It isn’t correct on either count. The FBU cases are the only ones that have been heard through the Tribunal. The FBU has made this settlement with the employers. FBU members will get representation from the Thompsons paid for by the FBU up until any point when Thompsons advise that the individual claim is not viable.
14. I do not agree with the terms of settlement reached by the FBU. What should I do?
You should make this clear on your form. If you were a claimant in 2001, you will be able to pursue your individual claim to the employment tribunal but without FBU assistance on the matter. This is because the FBU has reached a settlement which it believes is the most beneficial and it would be inappropriate for the FBU to assist a different settlement for some but not all. The FBU is confident that it has got the best deal available.
15. My colleague has received a different letter from me. Why?
The specific letter that a firefighter receives will depend upon a variety of permutations:
FBU members will receive a different letter to that received by RFU members or firefighters who do belong to either organisation.
It will depend on whether the individual was a claimant in 2001
It will depend on whether the individual has previous retained service with another FRS
It will depend if the firefighter is currently employed on a retained contract with more than one FRS.
16. Why do I have to supply evidence for my claim? Is my word not good enough?
Your word is good enough for Thompsons and the FBU, but the FRS won’t pay out money unless it has to. An employment tribunal will require evidence to substantiate the claim.
17. Does “rank/ role held” mean substantive or acting / temporary.
It means the substantive rank.
18. Why is it the rank held on 30 June 2010 (or rank held on leaving service)?
It was necessary to choose a reference date. Of all the options, 30 June 2010 was the most logical to choose.
19. I think my compensation has been wrongly calculated. What should I do?
Contact your FRS immediately. Do not wait until you are next on duty – do it straight away. State clearly why you believe the calculation (or the data used to calculate it) is wrong. Follow it up with an email straight away to the person you spoke to and cc it to your line manager.
20. I believe that a period of over 9 months continuous sick leave in the reference period but have no documentation to evidence it. What should I do?
The sick leave needs to have been reported to the FRS. Raise the matter immediately with your FRS. Also try to seek records from your GP though do not delay waiting to raise it with the FRS until the doctor has supplied the records as the clock is ticking there are only 14 days for you to write to Thompsons with the evidence.
21. I have contacted my FRS as I do not believe the calculation is correct. They have told me that I have no valid claim and I should simply agree the amount. Is that correct?
Whether you individual query is correct or not will depend on why you think the calculation is wrong. If the FRS doesn’t agree there has been an error, then it is Thompsons who will decide whether your query is correct and whether there is sufficient evidence to validate. Ultimately if the FRS don’t accept that a calculation is incorrect and do not agree with Thompsons view, then the individual case may well end up back at the employment tribunal for it to consider. In any event it is not for the FRS to tell you not to proceed with a claim.
22. The FRS has not recorded my rank/role incorrectly On the 30 June 2010 I held a higher substantive rank that than which they have based my calculations on. What should I do?
Contact your FRS and inform them that they have incorrectly recorded you rank/ role. Inform them of the date when you were promoted. Do not delay. If you do not get any satisfaction from your FRS make sure you submit a “non standard claim” form to Thompsons via Popularis within the 14 days.
23. The FRS has recorded my length of service in the reference period incorrectly. What should I do?
Contact your FRS and inform them that they have incorrectly recorded your length of service. Inform them of the correct dates and period of service. If you do not get any satisfaction from your FRS make sure you submit a “non standard claim” form to Thompsons via Popularis within the 14 days.
24. The FRS has not taken account of my previous service with another FRS. What should I do?
Contact your FRS and inform them that they have not taken into account your service within another FRS. Inform them of the correct dates and period of service. If you do not get any satisfaction from your FRS make sure you submit a “non standard claim” form to Thompsons via Popularis within the 14 days.
25. The FRS has not taken account of the retained duty system service I am currently serving with another FRS. What should I do?
You should receive a letter with an offer from each of the FRSs concerned. Check the letter carefully. If you do not receive a letter from both FRSs contact the one which has omitted you and inform them of the error. Inform them of the correct dates and period of service. If you do not get any satisfaction from your FRS make sure you submit a “non standard claim” form to Thompsons via Popularis within the 14 days.
26. I have contacted my FRS and it is now 3 days to the deadline. What should I do?
Complete the non-standard circumstances form and send it with your documentary evidence to Popularis. You should also include a copy of the email you sent to your FRS management.
27. A friend of mine has said that I do not have to worry about the evidence as the lawyers will ask me to provide more evidence. Is that correct?
No it isn’t. You must send your evidence with your non-standard claim form. Neither Thompsons nor Popularis will prompt you or chase you to provide evidence.
28. How do I provide the evidence online?
You can’t. You must use the hard-copy paperwork which has been sent to you if you wish to register a non-standard claim and submit it in writing with a signature.
29. How can I be sure that my evidence won’t get lost in the post? Items don’t get lost in the post very often. You might want to use the one of the “signed for” delivery services available from the post office.
30. I have filled in all the forms, I agree with the settlement arrangements and my calculated sum is agreed with the FRS. When do I get my money?
Money will be paid within 3 months of the start of the process to those who are challenging the calculation. There is logic to this. It would be unfair to claimants if they had to wait until the matter was completely signed off at the Employment Tribunal for their money, if non-claimants received their money as soon as they returned their acceptance form. In any event an individual member will not receive money until his/her claim is settled or, in the case of non-claimants, he/she has agreed this to be a settlement for any previous as-yet-unclaimed discrimination.
Download in PDF format
8 April 2011
TO: ALL RETAINED BRANCHES
CC: ALL WHOLETIME BRANCHES
In just over a week’s time the details of individual cash settlements will be sent to members via Popularis. Members will also be able to view and accept their claim online at the website www.retainedfirefighterclaims.org.uk.
You can access the website from Saturday 9 April 2011. To access the website you will need your National Insurance number. This is to ensure your confidentiality as your NI number is known to you and not to strangers. Nobody will be able to see your National Insurance number and your National Insurance number will not be used on any of the letters that are sent to you.
The website does not yet include details of your claim as these details have not yet been provided. However, please do visit the website and log in.
We have been informed by Popularis that a number of members have written in to say that they accept the terms of settlement. These letters will not be sufficient to be counted as acceptance, not least because the employer may get their facts all wrong and end up not making a financial offer which we would successfully challenge. We would not be able to make that challenge if a member’s premature letter was to be taken as the final word.
Those members who have written such a letter should be mindful that they will still have to complete the form/accept online via the website, despite having provided a letter giving this initial indication of their intentions.
Finally, can I ask all members to keep a close eye on their post at home it is not uncommon for letters that do not seem personalised to be viewed as “junk mail”. The correspondence from the FBU (via Popularis) will be in a special envelope with the FBU logo on the front. It will contain very important information including details of the claim and the appropriate forms.
ASSISTANT GENERAL SECRETARY
Download in PDF format
TUC MEDIA RELEASE
6th April 2011
With tax credit changes that could leave families thousands of pounds out of pocket taking effect from today (Wednesday), the TUC has launched a tax credit calculator to help parents find out how they will be affected.
The tax credit calculator – available at www.touchstoneblog.org.uk and on parenting forum mumsnet – allows working parents currently in receipt of tax credits to add their household details, such as income level and number of children, and then estimate how they will be affected by the tax changes taking place from today and from April next year.
Many parents will not have spotted the impact of the technical changes to working tax credits announced in last year’s Emergency budget – particularly as George Osborne made no reference to them in last month’s budget – and could be in for a shock when they realise how much they stand to lose from today, says the TUC.
For example, a dual earner family with incomes of £25,000 and £15,000, two children (a baby and a toddler), paying £400 a week in childcare for 45 weeks of the year, could lose around £2,600 a year by April 2012, according to the TUC tax credit calculator.
The tax credit changes featured in the calculator include:
- above inflation increases in child tax credits for this year and next
- a freeze in the basic element of working tax credit for three years (from April 2011)
- a freeze in the 30 hour element of working tax credit for three years (from April 2011)
- a reduction in the amount of eligible childcare costs met by working tax credit from 80 per cent to 70 per cent (from April 2011)
- a reduction in the second income threshold to £40,000 (from April 2011)
- a reversal of the plan to introduce a toddler tax credit (from April 2012), and
- a reduction in line with earnings (tapering) of the family element immediately after child element (from April 2012).
The tax credit changes come on top of changes to the way in which many benefits are uprated each year (from the RPI measure of inflation to CPI), which will further reduce the real value of tax credits and benefits.
The combination of tax credit cuts, the rise in VAT, the three year freeze in child benefit rates (as well as the cut for households with a higher rate taxpayer) and deep spending cuts could result in working families being hit hardest by the cuts, warns the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “With wages failing to keep up with the cost of living and the VAT rise biting into household budgets, these tax credit cuts could not have come at a worse time for families.
“Working families are bearing the brunt of government austerity measures, from cuts to vital public services such as sure start centres, libraries and youth clubs, to the freezing, cutting and scrapping of tax credits that are hitting household incomes.
“The government must do more to help hard pressed families by protecting the public services they rely on and ensuring that a greater share of the tax burden is placed on the banks that helped create the deficit, rather than the working families who are being made to pay for it.”
Founder and CEO of Mumsnet Justine Roberts said: “Many Mumsnetters are making changes to their family budgets as they find their wages aren’t going as far as they used to and tax credit changes are leaving them worse off.
“This calculator can help parents see what changes will affect them and help them plan to try to reduce the impact.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Further examples of how families will be affected by tax credit changes
- Dual earner family earning £20,000 (working 16 hours per week and 4 hours per week), two children (one baby) and not paying for childcare could lose around £4,300 a year.
- Dual earner family earning £50,000 (£40,000 and £10,000), three children (including a baby and a toddler) and paying £300 a week in childcare for 45 weeks a year could lose around £2,400 a year.
- Lone parent family earning £15,000 and working 20 hours a week, two children (one in receipt of disability living allowance) and paying £150 a week in childcare for 40 weeks a year could lose around £800 a year.
- The calculator provides a rough estimate of how the government’s tax credit changes will affect different types of families. It shows approximate tax credit awards for different types of households in 2012/13 both before and after the changes. However, it does not provide a fully accurate assessment of actual household entitlements, as it only asks for basic information about family circumstances.
- Further analysis of welfare changes and their impact on families is available at www.touchstoneblog.org.uk
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Register for the TUC’s press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre‑embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet
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