APPROXIMATELY £1 million of firefighter pension contributions hang in the balance, as the brigade are “uncertain” whether central government will help cover payments.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to publish a three-year Comprehensive Spending Review later this year.

A report before the Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority next week says its Pension Board is watching to see whether the government will keep its “provisional” promise to fund 90 per cent of next year’s firefighter pension increase.

The board chairman’s annual report says: “As is the case in many areas of work, the pensions arena is full of much uncertainty.

“Whilst the government has provisionally agreed to fund 90 per cent of the fire service increase during 2019-20, how it will be reflected in the 2019 CSR is yet to be determined.

“This leaves the service with significant uncertainty about how the approximately £1,000,000 increase in employer contributions will be covered in future years.”

The report says the board will monitor this as a “matter of interest” throughout 2019-20, and will keep the Fire Authority informed.

The report updates the Fire Authority on other aspects of pension provision, including scheme members’ use of the pension portal, which allows them to view statements and forecasts of their future benefits.

It says: “The Board have been encouraged by the number of members who have already registered on the portal – currently standing at nearly 50 per cent of all Fire Pension Scheme members, compared to only 26 per cent for members of the Local Government Pension Scheme – but is keen to see these uptake figures further improved during 2019.”

The Pension Board is chaired by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andy Johnson and also includes brigade treasurer James Walton, Matthew Lamb from the Fire Brigades Union and Fire and Rescue Services Association representative Tony Talbot.

The Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority’s Standards and HR Committee will discuss their report at the brigade’s Shrewsbury headquarters on Tuesday, March 26.