A new pension scheme being voted on by the Welsh Assembly on Tuesday 17th March will penalise serving fire fighters who have previously served in the armed forces according to the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black
Mr. Black was speaking after being contacted by constituents currently serving in the fire and rescue service who are concerned that the value of their armed forces pension will be lost under the new arrangements because the sort of protection on offer in Scotland has not been carried forward in Wales.
This particular change affects just 150 to 160 firefighters in Wales who, having left the armed forces joined the fire and rescue service, amalgamating their existing pension with their firefighter pension. In Scotland because protection has been afforded to such individuals on the basis of age and length of service, this anomaly has not occurred. However, in Wales the Minister is proposing to protect veterans on the basis of their age only, meaning that many will be thousands of pounds worse off.
Commenting on the new pension arrangements, Mr. Black said: "I accept that the pension scheme being proposed for firefighters in Wales is better than the one which is still the subject of industrial action in England. However, that does not correct the injustice that will be suffered by armed forces veterans in the fire and rescue service if the Welsh scheme goes through unamended.
"I think we are all aware of the pressures on the public purse and on pension schemes as a result of a number of factors, many outside of the control of the Welsh Government. Pension provision is changing and people are not getting what they expected when they started out on their working life.
"However, in this case men and women who have served their country and then gone on to risk their lives further as members of one of the emergency services face seeing the value of their military pension undermined as a result of an actuarial calculation.
"That can be avoided and I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will amend the regulations before we vote on them next week."