Government is turning its back on firefighters, says John

Dearne MP John Healey has accused the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles of ‘turning his back’ on firefighters.

A dispute between firefighters and the Government over pensions and retirement age has dragged on for more than three years, and has included strikes.

The new scheme, which is due to come in in April 2015, will see firefighters expected to work until they are 60, even though a Government report said two thirds would not meet the fitness standard. If they leave before 40 years’ service they face a reduced pension of up to 50%.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Healey said: “It is a disgrace that the Secretary of State has personally allowed the dispute over fire service pensions to drag on for three years.

“The Government’s own expert report says that two thirds of firefighters will not pass the current fitness standard at the age of 60, meaning they will be faced with no job and no pension after years of good service.

“Why has he turned his back on firefighters and now dragged his new junior minister away from the negotiating table?”

Responding, Penny Mordaunt, the minister responsible for the fire service, said: “We have introduced protections for firefighters on a statutory footing and set up a working group to ensure best practice to enable people to maintain their fitness.

“We have gone further still, however, and are looking at the future shape of the work force to ensure that people who want to stay operational but cannot maintain those fitness standards have jobs to go to.”

Mr Healey has also signed Early Day Motion 454, which calls on the regulations bringing in the new scheme to be annulled.