Written evidence submitted by Ian Falcus (ENT 47)

I write in regard to the significant financial and personal damage that the Enterprise Bill would reap on both myself and many colleagues within the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA) estate should the Bill be imposed.  Below is a summary of the letter that I wrote to my MP, John Whittingdale , back in November and my concerns remain the same;

This is the first time that I have ever felt the need to write to my Member of Parliament and this has come about due to the worry and anxiety I am currently suffering due to the total unfairness of the above proposal relevant to my personal circumstances. As such, I am writing to you to let you know who I am and the devastating affect such a change would have on me and my family.

I left the Plume School, Maldon, in 1982 at sixteen years of age and was lucky enough to win an apprenticeship with the CEGB at Bradwell Power Station. Four years later, with indentures in hand, I was employed as a Craftsman at Bradwell and started the long path of climbing the career ladder to get to where I am today, an Engineering Section Head, still based at Bradwell .

This has required in excess of ten years post apprenticeship further education culminating in a 1 st Class BSc Honours Degree.  The reward is my current salary which I know is below what EdF , the other UK nuclear Generator (also a private company), would pay a similarly educated individual in the same position.  Whilst I am aware that my salary is higher than the UK average, it’s nothing outrageous, hasn't been handed to me on a plate and is not what I would call a 'Fat Cat's' salary.

I have worked at Bradwell through thick and thin. I helped ‘keep the lights on’ for twenty years through privatisation until cessation in 2002 and I would like to think I have been proactive in decommissioning the site since. As I believe you’re aware, the Governments priority is to get a site i.e. Bradwell to shut and enter the Care and Maintenance phase of its lifecycle by late 2018. At this time, I would be fifty two years of age and would be made redundant, which is devastating in itself, without even considering the further implications that this proposal would reap on me and my family.

I have no angst with the proposal placing a cap on the actual severance payment at £95k and this would still effect me as it is lower than my ‘guaranteed’ severance figure. What is causing me this worry and anxiety is the proposal to include the ‘strain payment’ that my private sector employer would pay into my pension scheme at that time to allow me to draw an early, unreduced pension. Placing a cap on this entitlement would result in financial destruction to my pension.

Up until August 2015 my financial life was planned out. The carrot was always that on successful completion at Bradwell I would be severed and that I would take this early, non discounted pension. Throughout Bradwell's decommissioning I have received many written statements confirming this, whilst giving financial estimates of what I should expect. This is also enshrined in the rules of the Electrical Supply Pension Scheme (ESPS), into which I have contributed for just under thirty years, and which is a fully funded, private scheme. I have based both my financial and personal future on this and have made commitments, both financial and personal, on the strength of it.

This proposal, if implemented, would change all of this and throw my life up in the air after decades of loyal service and break many promises made by my employer. At fifty two years of age I would have to take either a vastly reduced pension, or defer my pension until sixty and seek further employment due to being put in a position where I have no other personal income. Please remember that I am a specialist nuclear engineer and that there is no requirement for these skills locally. Yes, some skills may be transferable, but the remuneration would probably be less than my previously promised non discounted pension alone. The option of moving isn’t available due to my wife commuting to London, my children being well established in education and both sets of elderly parents living nearby.  

ONS statistics show that I should expect to live until eighty nine years of age. This is a further thirty seven years from the date I am expected to be made redundant. If the proposal becomes law I have estimated that the financial destruction on my privately funded pension, i.e. not paid for by the public purse, would be as follows;

·          To take a reduced (discounted) pension at fifty two would result in a loss in excess of £470k over my remaining life expectancy due to reduced pension payments.

·          If I deferred my pension until sixty, this would result in a loss in excess of £240k in lost pension payments between the age of fifty two and sixty.

Please note that the above figures do not include any future increases in pension payments, so the actual figures will be far greater .

The fact that my employer, Magnox, is included in the consultation cohort is another discussion and outside the purpose of this letter. As a realist I look at the worst case scenario and, to me personally, it could be pretty grim. Back in August 2015 I was looking at the possibility of being made redundant in three years time but being in a position where I could financially manage the future.  Now, should the Bill be implemented I would have no guaranteed financial security.

I am aware that I am not the only individual that would be affected by this proposal and am also aware that many of my work colleagues are not tuned into the implications of this proposal and could be walking into it blindly. In addition, this proposal is probably unique in its unfairness to individuals employed at Bradwell as we are all under notice of redundancy and do not have the time to mitigate against the consequences of it.

Please could I ask you to consider my personal plight and have this in mind should you get to formally vote on this very unjust proposal? As I've said, I can accept a cap on the actual severance payment, but to include the ‘strain payment’ within the cap is so wrong and totally unfair.

February 2016


Prepared 18th February 2016