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The six largest public service pension schemes in the UK – the schemes for the Armed Forces, the Civil Service, NHS, Teachers, Police and Firefighters (which operate on a pay-as-you-go basis) and the Local Government Pension Scheme (which is funded) are statutory defined benefit (DB) pension schemes (i.e. they provide pension benefits based on salary and length of service).

These schemes were reformed under the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. Key features of the new schemes included:

  • pension benefits based on Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE);
  • a pension age linked to the State Pension age for teachers, local government, NHS and the civil service;
  • a pension age of 60 for members of the schemes for the police, firefighters and armed forces.

Active members of the schemes prior to April 2015 (2014 for local government) were transferred onto the new schemes, except for those covered by transitional protection for those ‘closest to retirement.’

Spending on unfunded public service pensions is expected to fall gradually from around 2% of GDP to below 1.5% of GDP over the next 50 years. The Government says there are “various [reasons] for this fall – including the impact of both historic and recent reform.”(Whole of Government Accounts 2017-18, June 2018, para 1.63).


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