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This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Tuesday, 20 November 2007,00:59 GMT
Warning over 70s 'pensions bulge'

A large UK-wide recruitment drive in the 1970s has left Highlands and Islands fire chiefs trying to find an extra £610,000 to fund pensions.

A substantial increase in the number of employees eligible to retire after 30 years' service has been forecast.

The so-called "pensions bulge" has been identified as one of three pressures on the service's budget for 2008/09.

Training for a national communication system and payments for professional development are the others.

A report prepared for Thursday's Highlands and Islands Fire Board sets out demands on next year's budget.

Pensions, training on Firelink - estimated to be £500,000 - and up to £93,000 on continuous professional development payments have been identified as being outwith the board's control.

It has been recommended that the board write to the Scottish Government to express "very real concerns" should these costs not be fully funded.