Leaving the Scheme
If you do not want to be a member of the FPS 2007, you can opt out at any time by giving written notice to the Fire & Rescue Service. The notice would take effect from the start of the following pay period.
If you have less than 3 months' qualifying service at the time the notice takes effect, you would normally receive a refund of the contributions you have paid. If you have 3 months' or more qualifying service you would have a choice of a transfer of accrued pension rights to another pension arrangement, or a deferred pension.
You would cease to have any further cover under the FPS 2007 (other than that provided by any deferred pension). If you subsequently change your mind and wish to rejoin, you will then become a member of the FPS 2015. Your election to rejoin would take effect from the start of the following pay period.
Refund of Contributions
You can have a refund of contributions only if you are not entitled to one of the types of pension offered by the FPS 2007. This means that a refund could be made only if you;
- have less than 3 months' qualifying service in the FPS 2007; and
- have not reached State pension age; and
- a transfer of personal pension rights has not been paid into the scheme.
If you are eligible for a refund, this would be the total of all the contributions that you have paid. There would be NO payment to you of any employer's contributions.
Deductions would be made from the refund in respect of tax, which will be deducted at a rate of 20%.
If you leave the FPS 2007 (either because you cease to be a firefighter or because you opt out of the Scheme) having sufficient service to qualify for a pension, but not being eligible for immediate payment because you are not old enough nor retiring on grounds of ill-health, you would be entitled to a deferred pension, calculated as follows:
1/60th x pensionable service x final pensionable pay = annual pension
The payment of a deferred pension will not be immediate. It would normally be put into payment at age 65. You could, however, request earlier payment from age 55. If the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) agree to the earlier payment, the pension would be paid right away but subject to a similar reduction as would apply in the case of a member initiated early retirement pension.
A firefighter entitled to a deferred pension who suffers permanent ill-health before it is due to come into payment, to the extent that he/she would be unable to undertake regular employment (i.e. a similar test to that which would decide if a serving firefighter would be eligible for a higher tier ill-health pension), can have the deferred pension put into immediate payment without reduction. (There would be NO enhancement of service, however, as there would be in the case of the higher tier ill-health pension).
Transferring your Benefits
If you leave the FPS 2007 having sufficient service to qualify for a pension, but not being eligible for immediate payment because you are not old enough, nor retiring on grounds of ill-health, as an alternative to a deferred pension you could request that your pension rights should be transferred to some other pension arrangement.
A transfer value, a sum representing the capital value of your pension rights, would be assessed in accordance with guidance provided by the Government Actuary.
You may leave employment with your current Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) to transfer to another FRS where you remain a member of the FPS 2007.
The Government has prohibited any transfers from unfunded public service pension schemes (such as the Fire Pension Schemes) into Defined Contribution Pension Schemes and other flexible benefit arrangements from 6 April 2015.
Seek Independent Financial Advice if you are thinking about opting out of the FPS 2007. You would save the cost of contributions, but would probably pay more by way of tax (contributions attract tax relief) and National Insurance contributions (while a member of the FPS 2007, you pay the lower contracted out rate). Plus, you and your dependants would cease to have the cover that the FPS 2007 provides.