PCSPS Options exercise

PCSPS Options exercise

The final agreement on reform of the civil service pension scheme that Prospect members endorsed in a ballot in 2012 provided for a new pension scheme called alpha to be introduced from April 2015

  • Some members will stay in their existing pension scheme and will not transfer to alpha.
  • Some members will automatically transfer to alpha on 1 April 2015.
  • Another group of members will have an option about what pension benefits they would accrue for a period from April 2015. They will choose between staying in their existing scheme for a period of time or moving to alpha immediately on 1 April 2015.

The option window opens in October 2014. These pages aim to help Prospect members facing this option to make their choice.

Please continue to check these pages until you have made your choice as they will be updated with further members’ meetings, examples and questions and answers.

Who will get an option?

Members of the PCSPS and by-analogy pension schemes (but not the Research Council Pension Scheme, see below) who were within 10 and 13.5 years of pension age on 1 April 2012.

That is:

  • members of Classic, Classic Plus or Premium who were in service on 1 April 2012 and born between 2 April 1962 and 1 September 1965 (inclusive) and
  • members of Nuvos who were in service on 1 April 2012 and born between 2 April 1957 and 1 September 1960 (inclusive).

Other members of the PCSPS and by-analogy schemes will not get an option.

Members who were in the PCSPS on 1 April 2012 and were within 10 years of pension age will stay in their existing scheme.

Members who joined after 1 April 2012 or who were more than 13.5 years from pension age on 1 April 2012 will join alpha on 1 April 2015. 

The Research Council Pension Scheme is not undertaking an option exercise at this time. Members will be updated on what is happening with this pension scheme when more information is available.

Members of other public service pension schemes (eg Local Government Pension Scheme, CPS, Teachers’ Pension Schemes, NHS Pension Schemes) are not affected by this option (though they may have other options which Prospect can help with).

What is the option?

  • to stay in the current section of the PCSPS for a period of time or
  • to move to the new pension scheme, called Alpha, from April 2015.

The period of time can vary from two months to six years and 10 months. The oldest members in the option group have the choice to stay in their existing scheme for the longest.

What is the period of time I would stay in my current section of the PCSPS?

This depends on a number of factors. Tables on the Civil Service Pensions website show how long people in the option group would remain in their existing scheme if they did not choose to join alpha.


When does the option period open and when does it close?

Option packs will be sent to eligible members in October 2014. Option forms must be returned in December 2014. The scheme administrators will acknowledge your decision in January 2015. 

Is this an important option?

The choice you make will have an impact on the final pension you retire on. The difference between staying in your current scheme or joining alpha on 1 April 2015 could be minimal or it could affect your standard of living in retirement or even when you choose to retire.

The longer the period you can stay in your existing scheme, the more likely it is that the impact of the choice will be significant.

Prospect recommends that members take the time to carefully consider this option. It is particularly important to have an open mind about the option and not to assume that one course of action is more attractive than another.   

Which option will be better for me?

Prospect cannot provide financial advice and therefore cannot tell you which option will be best for you. Indeed no one can be 100% sure which option will work out best as this will depend on factors relating to your future career that cannot be controlled or predicted with certainty.

However it is possible to set out factors that might make one option relatively more attractive than the other.

It will be for members to weigh these factors in relation to their own circumstances and expectations for the future in reaching their decision. Examples will help highlight the impact of these factors and more will be added to these pages soon.

The option is a choice to accrue pension in the existing scheme or in alpha for a period of time from 1 April 2015.

Clearly one key factor is the scheme you are currently in.

What if I don’t make a decision?

If you don’t make a decision you will be assumed to have opted to stay in the existing section of the scheme for the length of the option period.


Prospect’s pension officer will hold members’ meetings in workplaces, city centre locations and by teleconference.

Workplace meetings are being held from Plymouth to Inverness and from Newport to Peterborough. It would be impossible to travel to every location with Prospect members in the time available, so city centre meetings will also be held in Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff, Taunton, Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, York and London.

Teleconferences are being arranged for those who cannot attend a workplace meeting or one of the city centre meetings.

A list of meetings is at the link below, this will be updated from time to time. Prospect will email you if a new meeting is arranged in your area.



Prospect will develop a bank of questions and answers as members raise queries about this option exercise. Please email pensionreview@prospect.org.uk if you have any questions.