On the 2nd June you were informed that the NCOA were 'considering' leading a Class Action claim for damages following forced pension changes which commenced in 2012 and were finalised in April 2015. This would mirror similar activity being undertaken by the Police Federation but with recognition that the NCOA was not actually formed until after the pension changes had already been set in train.
In the first instance, members were invited to take part in an expression of interest between the 3rd and 10th June 2020 to confirm whether you wanted us to pursue a Class Action injury award claim on your behalf. Our assessment was that this would affect between 1000 and 1500 NCOA members.
After the closing date, a validation exercise took place to confirm:
- Membership of the NCOA prior to the commission of the EOI. &
- Eligibility to pursue a claim after examining personal pension changes of each member.
Surprisingly though, this exercise identified only 150 members who would be eligible to take part in such a claim.
A formal request was then made to the legal team assisting with the PFEW case, a company who already have close links with the NCOA through engagement on a number of previous and unrelated employment law issues. The request sought costings to represent no more than 150 members on either a fixed fee basis or on percentage of award basis.
Whilst there is of course a degree of commercial sensitivity around the response we received, they were unwilling to provide a service for a fixed fee or under a damages-based agreement, citing the fact that prospects of any injury award were both low and likely to be insignificant sums.
The only option offered was to set aside a substantial but unrecoverable ‘reserve’ fund which would see us either utilising a vast amount of NCOA member finances or introducing across the board subscription increases to fund this course of action.
Officers of the National Executive Committee met (remotely) to discuss the issue and reflected on both the number of members eligible to seek representation and the disproportionately high cost - with no guarantee that costs would not rise even further as matters progressed.
Given the significant cost to represent barely 5% of our NCOA membership, the NEC concluded that it would be both unreasonable and unfair to the vast majority of our members to pursue this course action, particularly as the issue predated the existence of the NCOA.
That said, it is worth stressing that, such action sits entirely separately from any remedy which the Tribunal may instruct should take place, in order to remove any discrimination as outlined in the McCloud & Sargeant judgement.
As you know, the NCOA are actively engaged in regular meetings with Cabinet Office officials to ensure you are represented at this important time, ahead of final response from the remedy hearing. Whilst we are next scheduled to meet officials on the 3rd August, there is also a public consultation on changes to the transitional arrangements of the 2015 public service pension schemes which has just been published on gov.uk. The consultation will be open until the 11th October.
A written ministerial statement announcing the opening of the consultation was laid before parliament yesterday morning by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. It provides an update on the proposals for addressing discrimination, future pension provision and an update on the cost control mechanism.
If you have been personally affected, please use this opportunity to have your say. I will ensure you are kept updated once key decisions have been made and matters progress further.
NCOA General Secretary