Police and Crime Commissioner clarifies A19 pension costs

An article in the Express and Star newspaper has published information about pension costs associated with the use of Police Pensions Regulation A19, which requires officers with full pensionable service to retire.  A19 was introduced by the Police Authority in 2011 and the Chief Constable recently announced its withdrawal.

Bob Jones has written to the Editor of the Express and Star to clarify the financial implications arising from the use of A19:

31 December 2013

Dear Editor

Can I concur with your editorial and article (30 December 2013) that the use of the A19 regulation, where Officers achieving the full pension entitlement can be asked to leave, is not a good use of public money. 

Nobody supporting it made such a claim and I have regularly made the same point as your editorial. 

What I would like to point out to your readers is that the use of the power was vital to West Midlands Police balancing its budget. 

The £71 million costs of lump sums and £12.4 million ongoing cost does not come from the West Midlands Police budget but from a national pensions pot.  With over 85% of West Midlands Police costs being personnel related, it was simply not possible at the point of the implementation of A19 to make 20% cuts in the police budget without reducing the headcount, and it would not have been possible to make such reductions by natural wastage. 

The only alternative in order to balance the budget would have been to make even more of the non-police staff redundant.  The problem with that is two-fold. 

First, those jobs still need to be done and we would have seen even more police officers withdrawn from the streets to take over their functions. 

Second, as we do have to make a contribution towards redundancies from the West Midlands Police budget this would have been an added pressure on that budget. 

I am pleased that having met the four-year savings targets the Chief Constable is now able to end A19.  However, the unprecedented scale and speed of the expenditure reductions unfairly hitting West Midlands Police meant it was an essential measure to meet the legal requirement to balance the budget and maintain a policing service that can continue to protect and serve our community even with significantly lower numbers and resources.

Yours faithfully

Bob Jones