Who is this page for?

This page is for you if:

  • You were a Civil Service Pensions member when alpha was first introduced in 2015 and
  • You were prevented from moving into alpha at the time and instead remained in one section of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (classic, classic plus, premium or nuvos) also known as the ‘legacy scheme’ and
  • You are currently an active member and
  • You have not moved to alpha since April 2015 and will not move to alpha before 1 April 2022

If you answered yes to all of the above – you’ll be automatically moved into the alpha scheme on 1 April 2022. This page explains how that will work.


Page contents

What’s changing?

From 1 April 2022, everyone contributing to a Civil Service pension will do so in the alpha scheme. This excludes anyone who is in the partnership scheme.

What's changing: in summary

  • All ‘legacy schemes’ are closing to new contributions on 31 March 2022
  • Existing Added Pension and Added Years contracts will continue
  • All your future pension contributions and pension built up from 1 April 2022 will be in the alpha scheme
  • The pension you have built up during your career to date is not affected
  • You don’t need to do anything now – we’ll make these changes for you

What's changing: in detail

As part of applying the 2015 Remedy, the Government needs to carry out the changes it set out to make in 2015 in a non-discriminatory way. To do that, the ‘legacy scheme’ (classic, classic plus, premium and nuvos) will close to all members for any further contributions on 31 March 2022. Existing Added Pension and Added Years contracts will continue.

The Partnership scheme will not close and will continue as usual, you can continue to make AVC payments to Legal & General.

On 1 April 2022, you’ll be moved into the alpha pension scheme where all your future pension will be built up. For most members, the overall contribution rate won’t change.'  (For details of those affected, please see the 'Will being in alpha mean higher contribution rates?' section below).

This will all happen automatically. You don’t need to do anything.

Any pension built up in your legacy scheme before 31 March 2022 will be unaffected by the move to alpha.

When you come to draw your pension:

  • We’ll calculate all benefits built up in the legacy scheme(s) up to 31 March 2022
  • We’ll also calculate all benefits built up in alpha from 1 April 2022 up to your retirement date
  • If you’re retiring after October 2023, you’ll be given a choice as to how you would like us to calculate your benefits for any contributions you made between April 2015 and April 2022 (the Remedy period). You’ll be able to choose between alpha or legacy scheme for this period and we’ll give you clear information on the differences to help you make an informed decision
  • If you’re retiring before October 2023, your pension will be calculated based on the service built up before the Remedy was implemented. You’ll get to make a choice retrospectively after October 2023.

Actions you need to take now

You don’t need to do anything now; we’ll make these changes for you:

  • We’ll close the legacy scheme on 31 March 2022, retaining any benefits you’ve built up
  • We’ll move you into alpha on 1 April 2022 where your future pension benefits will build up
  • We’ll automatically issue you with the information you need to decide on which benefits are best for you for the Remedy periodeither before or after you retire.

2015 Remedy Live@Lunch session catch up

Catch up on the 23 February Live@Lunch session with information on the 2015 Remedy and a focus on those moving into alpha 1 April 2022.

Live@Lunch questions and answers

Abatement applies to the pension that you have in payment.  Any pension put into payment from nuvos will be subject to abatement. Your move to alpha does not impact this. Any pension earned in alpha after 1 April 2022 will not be subject to abatement when put into payment.

The retirement modeller currently works for those beyond the Normal Pension Age, up to their 75th birthday. Please see the ‘Check your eligibility’ section on the retirement modeller home page for details of the limits of the modeller.

If you are currently a member of classic, classic plus or premium (or a member of nuvos with a final salary element to your pension) when you move to alpha on 1 April 2022, you’ll no longer accrue reckonable service towards your final salary scheme. However, the reckonable service you’ve accrued in your final salary scheme will continue to be linked to your final salary after 1 April 2022. If you are currently a member of nuvos, when you move to alpha on 1 April 2022, you’ll no longer accrue a nuvos pension; however, your pension will increase year on year in line with inflation.

If you retire before October 2023, your benefits will be processed as they are now. For example, if you were all a fully protected member and won’t move to alpha until 1 April 2022, all the benefits you’ve accrued until 31 March 2022 will be in your previous PCSPS scheme and benefits accrued from 1 April 2022 will be calculated in alpha.

If you aren't due to move into alpha until 1 April 2022, all the benefits you’ve accrued until 31 March 2022 will be calculated in your previous scheme.

In alpha, you accrue 2.32% of your earnings, so your pension from 1 April 2022 to your last day of service will be calculated as 2.32% of your actual earnings in that time period.

If you claim an alpha pension before the State Pension age, the annual pension will be subject to actuarial reductions as it will then be in payment for longer. If you are over the normal pension age for your PCSPS scheme then reduction won’t be applied to that portion of your benefits.

When you retire, you’ll have the option to either:

  • take just your legacy benefits; or
  • take your legacy benefits and claim your alpha pension benefits.

If your State Pension age increases, your Normal Pension Age in alpha will increase alongside it.

Even if you work beyond 1 April 2022, you’ll still be impacted by the Remedy if you were in the scheme on both 31 March 2012 and 1 April 2015.

The dedicated 2015 Remedy pages on our website contain lots of information that you may find helpful.

You can also attend one of our free Pension Power training courses to find out more about the Civil Service pension schemes from one of our pension experts.

For advice regarding your individual circumstances, please consult an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). You can find a list of IFAs on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website.

Yes, we’re currently planning to develop a new modeller to help members assess the impact of the Remedy.

The reduction applied to alpha benefits for taking them early is approximately 4% for each year early you claim them. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll  have less pension than had you stayed in premium as alpha has a more generous accrual rate than premium to account for the fact it has a later Normal Pension Age.

It's important to note that everyone's individual circumstances (such as salary fluctuations) are different.

For advice regarding your individual circumstances, please consult an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). You can find a list of IFAs on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website.

Your alpha benefits will be reduced by approximately 4% for each year you claim them before Normal Pension Age.

Members taking benefits after October 2023 will be given a choice. If you have already taken benefits, you will be contacted at a later date with your options.

2015 public service pension schemes reforms included a policy of transitional protection. This meant members closest to retirement stayed in their legacy (classic, classic plus, premium and nuvos) scheme as they had the least amount of time to prepare for the changes.

The Court of Appeal later found this policy to be discriminatory against younger members in some schemes. Following the ruling the government confirmed that it would take steps to address the discrimination in all affected public service schemes.

The move to alpha does not impact your entitlement to claim your classic pension from age 50 (or age 55 if you joined the scheme on or after 6 April 2006). When you move into alpha you will start to build up a separate alpha pension, which can be taken from State Pension Age.

All impacted members will have the choice to take their benefits for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2022 in either alpha, or their Legacy scheme.

Yes, your added years contract will continue until your 60th birthday.

All Civil Service pension schemes have the same contribution rate (with the exception of partnership).

For current member and employer contribution rates visit our website.

There is a very small group of members where this is different, due to service or earnings. If you are in this group, you will be written to separately.

Your accrued pension will be frozen and adjusted annually in line with inflation (the Consumer Price Index). 

Yes. Members who moved to alpha in 2015 will be given the option when they retire to take the seven years of pension accrued between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2022 in either alpha or their Legacy scheme.

We’re working to update Annual Benefit Statements to show benefit entitlements in both alpha and Legacy schemes. We will keep you updated on when this will be available.

The Scheme Administrator requires four months’ notice of your intention to retire. You’ll receive a statement with the value of your pension around two months before your retirement date.

No. The arrangement will continue until you decide to cancel it in writing. Visit our increase your pension page for details of how to cancel your arrangement. 

A lump sum isn't automatically paid in alpha, but you can choose to give up some of your pension in exchange for a tax-free lump sum if you wish. More details about this can be found in the alpha scheme guide.

You’ll  accrue alpha benefits from 1 April 2022 onwards. Your benefits in premium will continue to be linked to your final salary until your last day of service.

To find out more about your Civil Service pension from one of our pension experts, book a place at one of our free Pension Power training courses.

Your alpha pension is based on your earnings from the date you join the alpha scheme.

Partial retirement does not impact the move to alpha.  If you’re  due to move to alpha on 1 April 2022 you’ll  do so whether you have already taken partial retirement or not.

All Civil Service pensions in payment are increased annually in line with inflation (Consumer Price Index). Visit the Pensions Increase page for more information.

Your choice to take the maximum lump sum still remains. When you’re offered the option to choose post October 2023, it may change the level of lump sum available to you.

The maximum reckonable service you can accrue towards your classic scheme is 45 years. alpha does not have an upper limit, so you’re able to work as long as you like and continue to accrue pension benefits.

We offer free Pension Power training courses to all our members. During a Pension Power training course, you’ll find out more about the Civil Service pension schemes from one of our pension experts. To find out more or to book your place, visit our training page.

Your classic pension continues to be linked to your final salary as long as you remain in service.

The retirement modeller assumes you remain working until your retirement date.  You can use the Early Retirement Estimator on our website to calculate what your Legacy benefits would be in the circumstance you have described. The Early Retirement Estimator can't currently calculate your alpha benefits.

Yes, you can partially retire in alpha, and you can claim your alpha pension from age 55. Your alpha pension will be reduced actuarially if you take it from before State Pension Age.

The contributions paid by you and your employer are not directly linked to how your benefits are calculated. They are there to ensure there is enough to fund your retirement. 

In alpha, you accrue 2.32% of your earnings each year as annual pension. If you had pensionable earnings of £25,000 in one scheme year, you would accrue £580 worth of pension. The contributions you paid in this year would be £1,150. The £580 pension earned will be paid to you every year in retirement. This means, less than two years into retirement you’ll already have received back every penny you paid in contributions. The rest of your pension is financed by the employer contributions paid. More details can be found in the alpha scheme guide

If you haven't already, you'll move into alpha from 1 April 2022. We will contact you after October 2023 about the benefits you accrued between 1 April 2015 and 31 March. You’ll be given the option to move the Legacy benefits accrued in that period to alpha. 

The two year minimum qualifying period applies over all of your service, you don’t have to have been a member of alpha for two years to qualify for a pension.

Members who were between 10 and 13.5 years away from their schemes’ Normal Pension Age on 1 April 2012 were able to stay in their Legacy scheme for longer, but were moved into alpha before 1 April 2022.

Yes, but the 2.32% accrual rate is based on your actual earnings. So, if you worked for six months in that year it would be 2.32% of 6 months' pensionable earnings.

You can sign up to a new added pension contract in your existing scheme as long as you meet the deadlines.

Yes. This session will be available to re-watch here.

Your deferred pension should not be impacted unless it relates to service accrued between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2022. It will however adjust each year with inflation from age 55.

Yes, you’ll still get a lump sum from your classic pension.

Your classic benefits remain payable at age 60 without any reduction.

All benefits accrued under premium are protected - including dependent pensions.  The dependent pensions payable from alpha are not less than what you are currently accruing in premium.  There is a difference in the level of lump sum payable on death in service though. Please read the alpha and premium scheme guides for more information.

The option to remain in your current scheme is not available. All members of the Civil Service pension scheme must move to alpha on 1 April 2022.

You’ll  be provided with this information when you retire. However, if you retire before October 2023, you’ll  be given this information retrospectively.

Your benefits until 31 March 2022 will be calculated as classic (final salary). Your benefits from 1 April 2022 will be calculated as alpha (CARE). 

The refund of WPS contributions for those unmarried on their last day of service only applies to members of the classic scheme.  The same provision does not apply in any of the other schemes.

About the alpha pension scheme

From 1 April 2022, everyone contributing to a Civil Service pension will do so in the alpha scheme.

Key facts about alpha

  • alpha has a higher accrual rate than classic, classic plus, premium or nuvos
  • For most members, the contribution rate in alpha will be the same as the legacy schemes, so most won’t pay any more or less each month
  • If your pay increases or you’re promoted after you move into alpha, your increased earnings will be reflected by your alpha benefits
  • Members of classic, classic plus or premium will retain a final salary link (calculated using your final pensionable earnings when you leave the alpha pension scheme, which may be many years from now) so that any increases in your pay will be taken into account in your legacy scheme benefits.

You can find out all you need to know about alpha in this detailed scheme guide.

Questions members like you ask

Right now, we’re waiting for the policy detail and the legislation around 2015 Remedy to be passed. We can’t tell you what (if any) financial impacts this will have on your pension for any contributions made between 1 April 2015 and 1 April 2022 until after that happens. We anticipate this will be after October 2023.

We can say that you’ll be given a choice for how you would like your benefits to be calculated for that period.

We provide free Pension Power training sessions which you can book onto, the sessions include information about alpha if you wish to learn more about how your pension savings will grow under your new scheme.

For most members, the contribution rates will be the same as in the legacy schemes. There are a few exceptions to this:

  • If you earn in excess of the earnings cap (currently £172,800 per year) you’ll see an increase in pension contributions. Under the legacy scheme (with the exception of Nuvos), earnings on which contributions are paid are capped to this level, whereas there is no such cap in alpha.
  • If you work for the Environment Agency, your employer calculates certain allowances as pensionable pay slightly differently between the legacy schemes and alpha, so the portion of your salary that attracts pension contributions may be higher.
  • If you have in excess of 45 years of reckonable service in classic, classic plus or premium you may have ceased to pay member contributions, and will resume paying contributions when you move into alpha.

We cannot tell you how you will be impacted at this time but your tax position will become clearer in time and there is nothing for you to do at the moment.

No. Added pension contributions you are already making into a legacy scheme can continue even after you have moved to alpha.

However, you won’t be able to:

  • Make any lump sum purchases of added pension in the legacy scheme after you move to alpha
  • Set up any new periodical contribution arrangements in the legacy scheme

There’s nothing extra you need to do and nothing relating to 2015 Remedy will prevent you from retiring as planned.

If you’re retiring before 1 April 2022, your pension will be made up of benefits built up in your legacy scheme. We’ll contact you after October 2023 to offer you a choice between your legacy benefits and alpha benefits built up between 1 April 2015 and 1 April 2022.

If you’re retiring between 1 April 2022 and 1 October 2023, your pension will be made up of benefits built up in your legacy scheme and the alpha scheme. We’ll contact you after October 2023 to offer you a choice between your legacy benefits and alpha benefits built up between 1 April 2015 and 1 April 2022.

If you have a break in service of five years or more and rejoin the alpha scheme when you return, you won’t be eligible to retain a final salary link from the legacy scheme all the way through to retirement.

No. The ABS statement that you receive reflects the benefits up to 31 March in that year.

You will first see your Alpha benefits in the 2023 ABS.

Our current retirement modeller does not take into account changes from the 2015 Remedy. We’re currently working on this.

You can however, use the tool to calculate your pension benefits based on the pension you have already built up in the legacy and alpha schemes.

You can access the retirement modeller via the Pension Portal. If you’ve already registered, login here and if not, you can learn more about how to access and register for the Pension Portal.

Ask a question

We’re putting on two Live@Lunch webinars specially for members like you on  23 February 2023 and 23 March 2023 where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to a live panel of Civil Service Pensions experts from both Cabinet Office and MyCSP.

If you have questions or concerns about moving to alpha, this forum has been put in place for you to share them. Register and learn more about Live@Lunch.

FAQ

Further reading

Learn more about 2015 Remedy

Learn more about alpha

Published:
18 January 2022
Last updated:
21 March 2022