8 October 2021
To: Fire and Rescue Authorities and Services Fire Brigades Union members
You will be aware of legal cases brought in the High Court against the London Fire Commissioner (LFC) and Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire and Rescue Authority (NFRA). The cases concerned Immediate Detriment issues in relation to the McCloud/Sargeant judgment and the claimants were supported by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
It was apparent similar issues would arise more widely across the sector. The FBU was clear that matters for affected individuals needed to be resolved sooner rather than later and it would, if necessary, support further legal cases. Many Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) across the UK on an individual basis had indicated that they wished to be able to deal with Immediate Detriment issues as soon as possible. The problem was not an unwillingness to do so but rather the need to identify and develop a suitable mechanism to be able to do so in a way which minimised the risks while the Government is putting in place the McCloud/Sargeant remedying legislation.
With that in mind, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the FBU have been in discussions to identify a mutually acceptable Framework, setting out a mechanism for handling Immediate Detriment cases, to assist all parties prior to completion and implementation of the McCloud/Sargeant remedying legislation. This would help in resolving the genuine difficulties that had arisen for FRAs in making payments to those affected (including for example issues around unauthorised payment charges and contribution holidays) and in removing the potential for further court claims (not just against NFRA and LFC).
During the course of the discussions, the Government laid primary legislation before Parliament in the Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill and will make secondary legislation pursuant to the Bill (together, the Remedying Legislation) to provide the affected pension scheme members with a remedy for the discrimination found in the McCloud/Sargeant claims.
Following a series of complex discussions including respective legal representatives, which were also able to utilise the longstanding national relationship between the LGA and FBU, we are pleased to advise you that agreement has today been reached on the attached Memorandum of Understanding and Framework.
We believe the Memorandum of Understanding and Framework are consistent with the principles currently set out in the Bill and will mean that appropriate action can be taken. As and when parts of the Remedying Legislation covering the relevant part of the Framework come into effect the MoU and Framework indicate that the relevant Remedying Legislation will then be used instead.
Each FRA is asked to consider adoption of the Framework and we would encourage such adoption in order to provide a consistent approach to Immediate Detriment cases across the fire and rescue service.
You may also wish to be aware that, separately, we and respective legal representatives have worked with NFRA and LFC in respect of the High Court cases and can also advise that settlement has been reached. Settlement took into account the principles in the Framework, however, as is the norm in such settlements, details will remain confidential. The Summary Judgment hearing due to be heard in the High Court later this month is therefore no longer required.
Local Government Association
Fire Brigades Union