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UK aims to centralise police pensions

UK – The UK government says it is reviewing the police pensions system – with a view to taking responsibility “back to the centre”.

"I have committed to reviewing the whole pension system, so we can take back some of the pensions responsibility into the centre," said Home Office minister Hazel Blears in an interview with BBC radio.

The comments came as police associations said a budget shortfall - partly due to higher pension costs as more officers retire - could force a cut in the number of police officers in England and Wales.

Blears accepted many police authorities were facing higher pension costs, but said: "People knew when they were going to retire and the police authorities have known that they have got a spike in retirement.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities were quoted by the BBC as saying a funding increase of nearly six percent is needed – and that forces may only receive a three percent rise. The associations were set today to lobby UK MPs on the matter.

The Home Office issued a consultation paper on police pensions in December last year – with a new scheme planned to be in place by April 2006.

Under the proposals, the new scheme would remain final salary. The report states: “A defined contribution scheme has not been ruled out as an alternative, but it is not proposed that this consultation exercise should dwell in detail on such an option to the detriment of progress with a new final salary scheme.”

The new arrangement will see a minimum pension age of 55 and a deferred pension age of 65. Staff contribution rates will be between nine and 9.5 percent.

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