Pension reforms for military outlined by MoD

A British soldier in Basra The MoD has promised to consult further before bringing the pension reforms into force

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The age at which members of the Armed Forces claim pensions could rise from 55 to 60 under government plans.

The changes, affecting all service personnel under the age of 45, are part of the government's plans to cut the cost of public sector pensions.

The new conditions are set to be introduced from April 2015.

The Forces Pensions Society (FPS) said the forthcoming changes were a "very good deal" and "certainly not all bad news".

The society's general secretary, Major General John Moore-Bick, said: "We have ensured that armed forces pensions stay towards the top end of pensions in the public sector."

"This does not mean that any people will have to carry on serving until they are 60."

Early payment

The current Armed Forces pension scheme has two main sections, for those who joined between 1975 and 2005 and those who joined afterwards.

In both cases the normal pension age is 55.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that only 2% of those who serve in the Armed Forces do so until that age.

The new scheme will be a career average one, rather than the final-salary versions that operate at present.

Pension rights accrued under the existing sections will be protected, so pensions earned up to the change-over date of April 2015 will be payable at the current retirement ages.

A unique early retirement feature of the scheme will also remain.

Under this, early departure payments in the form of a lower level of pension, and a lump sum, are paid to service men and women with at least 18 years service who are aged 40 or over.

The length of service required to trigger this will rise to 20 years.

"This will mainly affect officers who tend to join after university rather than the other ranks who join about the age of 20," said David Marsh, pensions secretary of the FPS.

Exemption

In the rest of the public sector the government is linking the normal pension age to the state pension age, which is going to rise in due course from 65 to at least 68, in line with increased life expectancy.

Start Quote

The MoD has done a very good job - under the consultation this is a very good job”

End Quote David Marsh Armed Forces Pension Society

The MoD said this meant that those in uniform would still have better pension terms than most other public sector workers.

The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan, said: "The government has had to make some tough decisions to ensure sustainable public service pensions which provide a fair deal for both service personnel and for the taxpayer."

"We recognise the unique commitment made by the Armed Forces and we have done all we can to protect them and make these changes in the fairest way possible," he added.

Service personnel who were within 10 years of their normal retirement age on 1 April 2012 will be exempt from the new changes altogether.

All service personnel will continue to be exempted from paying cash contributions to their pension scheme, though many argue that their pay rates are set at levels lower than would otherwise be the case, to offset this apparent generosity.

"The MoD has done a very good job - under the consultation this is a very good job," Mr Marsh said.

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