Judges within 10 years of retirement will be shielded from reform of their pension scheme, justice secretary Chris Grayling today confirmed.
Those who were 10 years, or less, away from retirement at 1 April, 2012 – around 25% of the total profession – will continue in their current schemes and not be subject to increased contributions from their pay.
But Grayling, in a written statement to the House of Commons today, said the rest of the judiciary must fall in line with other members of the public sector who are seeing their pension schemes changed.
He said: ‘In the particular context of difficult economic circumstances and changes to pension provision across the public sector, we do not consider that the proposed reforms infringe the broader constitutional principle of judicial independence.
‘Nonetheless we have listened to the concerns of the judges and we have modified our proposals.’
Judges more than 10 years from retirement will move into the new scheme for service from 1 April, 2015. It is expected their contributions will rise by an average of 3.2 percentage points and the retirement age will increase from 65 to 68.
Those appointed before 1 April 2012 who were aged between 51.5 and 55 will have an option to defer joining the new scheme until an age-related later date.
The lord chancellor will be responsible for the new stand-alone judicial pension scheme but judges will have a say in how their pension terms develop in future.
Grayling today wrote to the lord chief justice and his equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and, through the judicial intranet, to all judges holding non-devolved office.
The justice secretary added: ‘The government’s view is that the new pension arrangements will continue to provide a good way of saving for retirement and the new judicial pension scheme will remain among the most generous in the public sector.’