A retired firefighter has won his battle to have his pension entitlement revalued after his complaint was upheld by the panel which rules on grievances against States departments.
The States Complaints Board issued a damning report last year into the government’s handling of the complaint by Stuart Newman, describing his treatment as "unfair and unlawful" and saying that there had been an "inappropriate institutional culture" that was "resistant" to transparency and scrutiny.
The firefighter requested a valuation of his pension in early 2018 as he planned for early retirement after 28 years’ service. But the request for a re-evaluation of his entitlement under the Public Employees’ Contributory Retirement Scheme was rejected by the committee responsible for managing it, which led to him receiving a pension between 10% and 20% lower than it would have been.
The pension bosses argued that Mr Newman had applied too late to qualify for his pension to be evaluated at the previous, higher rate. To receive the older rate he had to apply before 29 May of that year.
Pictured: Mr Newman served as a firefighter for 28 years.
However, the complaints panel found that Mr Newman had made inquiries before that date, and should therefore have been entitled to receive the higher rate.
Stuart Catchpole, deputy chair of the States Complaints Board, said the committee for the Public Employees’ Pension Fund refused to reassess Mr Newman’s case and pay him the additional amount he was due.
As a result of the failure to acknowledge Mr Newman’s request at the time it was made, his pension was subjected to new assessment methods brought in at a later date.
Despite heavy criticism over its handling of the case, the Treasury Department said that it would be unable to revalue Mr Newman’s pension.
In a recent report outlining the conclusion of the case, the board said: "It had been stated that the Treasury and Exchequer Department, which was the administrator of the PEPF, would be unable to increase the transfer value payment to Mr Newman, as this would ‘constitute a special payment under the Public Finances Manual’ and the Treasurer of the States did not believe that there was a proper legal basis upon which to make such a payment."
The minister had also disputed the jurisdiction of the board in relation to the decision and actions of the committee of management of the PEPF.
However, another hearing was held in January in which further evidence was heard, and Gordon Pollock, chairman of the Public Employees’ Pension Fund, subsequently wrote to Mr Newman and accepted his complaint.
In the letter, Mr Pollock said: "Whilst we stand by our original decision based on the information available to the committee at the relevant time, we have been able to reach a revised decision on the basis of the further information we have received.
"We regret that this has undoubtedly been a distressing and difficult period for you."
The States Complaints Board report added that, in light of the decision to uphold Mr Newman’s complaint, it did not deem it "necessary or appropriate for the board to convene any further hearings or make any findings or recommendations in relation to the matters set out".
Pictured: Treasury Minister, Deputy Ian Gorst.
It added that current Treasury Minister Ian Gorst had played a key role in ensuring a positive outcome and said: "The board would like to acknowledge and record the positive and proactive involvement of the current minister in assisting to resolve Mr Newman’s complaint.
"His commitment to finding a solution to what was undoubtedly a difficult case and his willingness to work with the board to identify potential issues and how best to resolve them was very much appreciated."
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