Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

June 28, 2011 19:01 ET

YouGov Poll-Nearly Half of Firefighters Will Consider Leaving the Service If Pensions Proposals Are Pushed Through

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 29, 2011) - Nearly half the country's firefighters and officers will consider leaving the service in the future if the Government pushes through plans which will mean paying more, working longer and getting less. The Fire Brigades Union warn that pension changes risk devastating morale and damaging the fire service.

The key changes are to increase contribution rates in the main Firefighters Pensions Scheme from 11% to 14% for firefighters and to 17% for officers. The Government also wants to raise the retirement age from 55 to 60 and switch from a final salary scheme to career average earnings.

Officers would be hit hardest, paying considerably more and getting a lot less. The union has warned that even the fittest firefighter will struggle to fight fires in their late 50s.

The findings come from a YouGov poll for the Fire Brigades Union which found nearly half (45%) saying they would consider leaving the fire service in the future if the changes are pushed through. 62% said the changes - impacting more heavily on officers - would affect their decision to apply for promotion.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: "Half the fire service say they might quit a job they have dedicated their lives to. Huge numbers say they will not seek promotion because they will pay a lot more and get a lot less.

"We already pay the highest contributions in the public sector and Government is demanding more. Even the fittest firefighter will struggle to fight fires in their late 50s, it is a ridiculous proposal.

"This is not going to be a sudden mass exodus from the service. It is more likely to be a draining away of highly trained and experienced talent from all levels of the service.

"A great strength of the fire service is the numbers who join and remain for all their working lives. There is a real danger that the know how and experience which saves lives is going to evaporate.

"These pension changes will be a huge blow to the fire service and risk damaging our operational effectiveness now and in the future. Cuts and a pay freeze are already hitting morale, and the pension changes risk pushing it into the abyss.

"The Government need to wake up, listen and change their plans before they do lasting damage."

85% say the pension scheme was very important in their decision to join the fire service. 97% say it is important in their decision to remain in the service.

91% oppose the plans to increase contributions. 97% of those in the FPS oppose the moves to increase the retirement age to 60.

92% opposed a switch from using the retail price index to the consumer price index as the measure of future pension rises in retirement. This switch would greatly reduce the value of pensions after retirement and is the subject of a high court challenge.

83% oppose the switch to a final salary scheme. The opposition is strong among officers who stand to pay a lot more and get a lot less.

The total sample size was 7,981 current FBU members currently working in the Fire Service. The survey ran from Wednesday 18th May to Friday 17th June 2011. It was carried out online and the figures have not been weighted. YouGov is registered with the Information Commissioner and is a member of the British Polling Council.

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