The Scottish Police Federation represents all police officers in the ranks of constable, sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, police cadets and special constables; over 18,500 people, 98% of all police officers in Scotland.
On 31st October 2017, Ben Macpherson MSP secured a Private members debate on the anomaly of Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service paying VAT,
That the Parliament understands that Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue continue to be the only territorial forces in the UK unable to reclaim VAT; believes that this costs £35 million annually, and has totalled £140 million since 2013; notes what it sees as the detrimental impact that paying this VAT has on frontline services in communities in Edinburgh Northern and Leith and across Scotland; acknowledges the view that the UK Government should change its rules to allow this VAT to be reclaimed, similar to the action that it took to enable Highways England and academy schools to reclaim VAT, and further notes the argument that the UK Government should fully reimburse the reported £140 million taken away from Scotland’s frontline emergency services since 2013.
The inability of Police Scotland to reclaim its VAT has been the subject of a long running campaign of the SPF and we have engaged with politicians from all parties to try and have VAT rules amended. The SPF warned that these rules, as they stood in 2013 ,prevented the recovery of the tax but noted that rules had previously been changed to accommodate the BBC and the creation of Academy Schools in England. We also acknowledged that the projected savings from the creation of a single force dwarfed the additional VAT costs. The rights or wrongs of the past are however a matter for the politicians. What is important for the future sustainability of policing is that the disparity that sees Police Scotland as the only territorial Police Force in the UK paying VAT ends.
We welcome the position of the SNP, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats who, whilst having their differences on who was responsible, do at least agree that the VAT anomaly must now be rectified. It was disappointing that the Scottish Conservative MSPs in the debate were unwilling to support the motion but we hope that political pressure will encourage them to work behind the scenes to try and address this.
Our campaign continues.
A (small) number of SPF Members will have recently received an Annual Allowance Statement from the SPPA. This will happen when your accused pension benefits grow over a certain amount in the financial year. This normally impacts on those who have been rapidly promoted, especially in the latter years of service.
Generally speaking you multiply the growth in your pension (adjusted for inflation) in a financial year and multiply it by 16. If the amount is over £40,000 then a tax charge may be liable. Annual Allowance from the previous 3 years can be used to offset any breaches of this limit but this is explained in the paperwork you will have received.
If you receive such a letter it is important that you act upon it. Information on what to do is in the letter and on the sppa website.
Any member with an additional non-police pension will need to also consider this in their calculations.
SPF cannot advise on any pension of tax matters and we would advise the use of an independent financial advisor/accountant if you have any queries.
For a variety of reasons, a small number of members have either not signed up to the SPF voluntary fund or have temporarily stopped payments. In normal circumstances, re-joining the voluntary fund entails paying back up to one years’ subscription.
For a two month period from now to 31 December 2017, members may join or re-join the SPF voluntary fund at no back-dated cost. Any member who has, since 1 October 2016 been charged a re-entry lump sum, should contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration of a refund.
There are many good reasons for joining or remaining in the SPF
- One month after an officer stopped contributing to the voluntary fund (blaming the SPF for pension changes imposed by Government) – he was charged with a data protection offence – his legal cover had stopped and he had to fund his own defence at a four figure cost.
- An officer stopped contributing to the voluntary fund during her maternity leave and a conduct enquiry was then raised against her. Although her Federation representative assisted her, SPF could not fund a solicitor in her case.
- An officer decided to stop contributing to the voluntary fund (for reasons unknown) – he was seriously injured in a car crash and had to fund his own legal expenses which were considerable.
More than just insurance
Contributing to the SPF voluntary fund is more than just insurance against legal costs – albeit that is an important feature of the services we provide. Being a contributing member gives you access to our exclusive Group Insurance package which provides; Life, Critical & Terminal; Injury, Sick Pay; Personal Accident; Travel; Motor Breakdown and Home Emergency cover.
SPF also provides representation on pay, allowances, pensions, all other conditions of service, conduct, equality and health and safety; the Police Dependents’ Trust; St George’s Trust; the Scottish Police Benevolent Fund and the Police Treatment Centres.
To join or re-join the SPF voluntary fund, please email SPF at email@example.com and provide your Division; PSI No; and Payroll No.
The amnesty lasts between now and 31 December 2017 and during this time there is no extra cost.
Please also note Federation funds cannot be used in relation to any issue which arose during the time you were a non-contributing member.
The SPF Communication policy has been published with a 1week consultation period for JCC Reps.
As part of the party conference campaign, SPF held a Fringe Event at the SNP Conference today. It was themed
Policing for the Public
Anyone following policing in Scotland over the past few years would be forgiven for thinking that the public were an inconvenient consideration in what was otherwise an accounting, bureaucratic, financially vulnerable political experiment.
Whilst questions over governance and audit are legitimate for any organisation, policing is first and foremost a public service – its high time this more than anything else was at the heart of any discussions over the future of policing in Scotland.
Despite what we hear, too many of our citizens feel they have little option but to accept whatever level of police service they are given.
This fringe will discuss how we all have a part to play in designing the police service we want and what we can do to try and get it
The Fringe heard SNP delegates express concern re the current governance structures and the lack of local involvement in decision making.
The biggest shock though was when delegates heard about the pressures on response officers. A couple of anonymous examples were shared, laying bare the difficulties faced by ‘frontline’ officers by having too few of them.
The audience of politicians, party delegates and journalists were astounded to hear of officers struggling to get toilet breaks (never mind meal breaks), the short notice changes of shifts and the poor quality of equipment.
A Twitter ‘Moment’ of Tweets about the event can be found here
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