The probation service has been beset with pension administration difficulties ever since the implantation of TR in 2014. At the time Napo warned that this was a disaster waiting to happen given the complexity of transferring thousands of staff into the civil service or new privately run companies whilst remaining members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), but this was ignore by the MoJ.
An additional complexity has come from seeking to integrate LGPS membership into an outsourced HR and PAYE system where a core assumption was shared membership of the fundamentally different civil service pension and compensation schemes.
In recent months, we have witnessed a systematic functional breakdown of the pension scheme across the NPS. The NPS have repeatedly failed to address this, in some cases their actions compounding the problems. We’ve also seen significant pension issues arise in relation to some CRC contracts. The most significant problems impact upon the most vulnerable employees – those being award Ill-Health Early Retirement (IHER), often on grounds of stress, depression and workplace injury.
In the last 12 months, Napo has had to register two formal complaints with Pension Regulators against the National Probation Service for collective, systematic failure to meet their responsibilities under the LGPS. We have also registered a formal internal dispute about their systematic failure to manage ill health early retirement in accordance with scheme rules and regulations.
The scale of these problems and the lack of engagement from the employer, and resultant lack of progress, means that the union is now seeking the direct intervention of Ministers, asking them to facilitate direct negotiations with the unions to address these structural, systematic pension failures, as well as allowing negotiations for pay reform.
A full briefing on the pensions situation will be issued to members shortly.