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Tory-led Government’s pension changes could put firefighters’ lives at risk

Latest blog from Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield

The way Ministers in the Tory-led Government have handled firefighters’ pensions has been deeply irresponsible. They have presided over 48 separate periods of strike action by firefighters in England since September 2013 and, after more than three years of dispute, they have failed to negotiate a fair and sustainable solution.

The new Fire Minister offered firefighters warm words and raised their hopes when she first took up the post, only to cease negotiations and put down essentially the same offer that her predecessor in the role proposed in June 2013.

Toby with firefightersLabour cannot support the pension regulations for England because they are built on an assumption of a dangerously low aerobic fitness measure for firefighters. The Williams Review, which the Government itself commissioned, states that the aerobic fitness measure the Government is basing their plans on means “the risk of sudden catastrophic cardiac events increases… with a risk of sudden death particularly while undergoing high levels of physical exertion”. This flawed fitness standard would put firefighters needlessly at risk and fail to protect the public.

If a more robust fitness standard is implemented it would mean that the assumptions on which the Government’s pension regulations are based would no longer be valid.

The result would be that a number of firefighters who try to maintain fitness would be unable to meet these operational standards into their late 50s through no fault of their own.

The Government’s firefighter’s pension regulations are not fit for purpose and Labour opposed them.

Over 270 MPs have now signed a ‘prayer’ against the regulations, and under pressure from Labour, the Government granted a full debate and vote on the floor of the House on Monday 15th December, at which I voted against these regulations.

Importantly, these regulations are not the only configuration possible within the amount of money that the Treasury has set aside for the scheme, which we support. Devolved Governments are negotiating fairer alternative proposals within these financial limits and have averted strike action. In England, Ministers in DCLG have failed to do so. Firefighters risk their lives to save ours and they deserve better than this.

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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