Fire Service Pension Scandal

There has been a considerable correspondence around the issue of CFRS re-engaging its own leadership team after retirement. The Public Accounts Committee have been asked several questions about scrutiny of this at Question 24 at their last meeting on the 26th November 2015.

None of this though referred to the additional re-engagement of the DCFO in a similar fashion to the concerns raised in Question 24 about two earlier engagements

There are also questions being raised about scrutiny in other areas at CFRS 




27-2-15 More from the Cambridge Evening News

Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue chief Chris Strickland nets pension payout before walking back into £128,000-a-year job

By Cambridge News  |  Posted: February 27, 2015

  • Another Cambridgeshire fire boss has pocketed a big pension payout before going back to work in the same job, following the path others have taken in recent years.

Deputy chief fire officer Chris Strickland is the latest bigwig to secure the deal – just as rank-and-file firefighters fight to protect their pensions.

All three of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s senior fire officers – who earned a combined £500,000 last year, including pension contributions – have now retired and been re-engaged by the force within the past five years.

Its director of resources was also paid more than £150,000 last year including pensions. 

Fire Authority chairman Sir Peter Brown said the deals allowed the service to retain knowledge and skills, while saving money on pensions contributions.

But Cambridge City Council’s Cllr Dave Baigent asked: “How does the Cambridgeshire fire authority, which has already been subject to scrutiny by the fire minister over its re-engagement policies, re-engage another principal manager and continue to support a principal management team of four?

“And how does Cambridgeshire, one of the smallest services in the country, continue to pay these officers such a high rate of pay?

“Instead of looking after themselves, principal managers should be looking to improve community fire safety – but they have chosen instead to support the re-employment of their cronies.”

Cambridge firefighters joined thousands at a demo in London on Wednesday to protest at the long-running saga over firefighters’ pensions.

Cambridgeshire Fire Brigades Union rep Matthews said he was “utterly appalled” at new fire minister Penny Mordaunt after she told MPs that if a firefighter loses fitness through no fault of their own they should get another role or a full, unreduced pension.

The union said fire authorities across the country had failed to back up the minister’s “guarantee”.

“Firefighters are utterly appalled that a Government minister in a position of trust can knowingly mislead a Parliamentary vote with no repercussions, and with our Prime Minister doing nothing about it,” said Mr Matthews.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service said the dispute between Government and the FBU was “irrelevant” to local pension entitlements.

Sir Peter said: “There are many benefits of re-engagement. The authority saves money on pension contributions, and we retain knowledge and skills. 

"With the re-engagement of the deputy chief fire officer we can retain a senior management team that is performing well, continually improving the service it provides, investing in the frontline whilst still making in excess of £4million budget cuts, and delivering one of the best, yet cheapest fire and rescue services.”

The service has had to make some £4.3 million of savings over the past two years.

One area commander, three station commanders and two firefighters have also been re-engaged in the past five years.

Mr Strickland’s re-engagement was unanimously approved in a private part of a fire authority meeting in October.

The fire authority approved the service’s current command structure in 2012.

Read more: 
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In October 2013 the Cambridge Evening News highlighted correspondence between the fire minister and Cambridge Fire and Rescue Service about the re-employment package of the Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg who at the time was rumoured to be paid in excess of £200k

At the time I said:

“It is bad enough that the fire authority agreed a deal in summer 2012 to safeguard the pay and pension of its most senior officers at a time when firefighters were facing cuts to theirs, but to find out that it did so behind closed doors and seemingly against all its own policies is beyond belief."

I have now discovered from the minutes agreed at a recent fire authority meeting that a similar agreement has been put in place for the Deputy Chief Fire Officer and that this agreement was discussed in a closed session during the fire authority meeting held on the 8th October 2014.

This means that the three principal fire officers in Cambridge have now been involved in deals that feather their nests and secure their pensions, whilst at the same time they are not supporting their firefighters who are fighting to secure their pensions. 

This again raises a questions as to why CFRS need three principal officers at a cost of around £1/2 million and why the fire authority have agreed re-engagements instead of reducing the number to two by allowing one of them to retire at the normal time. 

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