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Agenda and minutes

GMFRS Local Pensions Board - Firefighters Pension Scheme
Wednesday, 4th October, 2017 2.30 pm

Venue: CLT Meeting Room, Fire Service Headquarters, 146 Bolton Road, Swinton, M27 8US. View directions

Contact: Donna Parker, Governance & Scrutiny  Email:  donna.parker@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chair 2017/18

Minutes:

Resolved: That Dave Keelan, Director of Emergency Services and Employers’ Side Representative, be appointed as the Chairman of the Local Pensions’ Board for the 2017/18 municipal year.

 

At this point in the meeting Dave Keelan, took the Chair.

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Paul Etches (Employee Side Representative).

 

3.

Declaration of any Conflicts of Interest pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest received.

 

4.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 289 KB

Minutes:

Resolved: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8th February 2017 were approved as a correct record.

 

5.

Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Minutes:

The following update was provided on the Action Sheet:-

 

Action 3 – Employee Named Substitute Appointment: Gary Keary, Employee Representative requested an update on this outstanding issue. In response, Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager, advised that an application process for substitute appointments was advertised in August 2015 and no interest was received. To progress the issue raised Nina Purcell sought to seek clarity from the Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) and seek advice from other fire and rescue authorities on how they deal with this issue at the next Pensions CFOA meeting.

 

Action 8 – GMFRS Re-Employment Policy: Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager advised that this was not a priority at the current time.

 

Action 12 – Transfer to GMCA: Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager advised that Richard Paver, GMCA Treasurer had confirmed that the ‘GMFRS Local Pensions Board – Firefighter Pension Scheme’ would continue in its current format under the GMCA.

 

Resolved: That the update and comments raised, be noted.

 

6.

Financial Arrangements for Firefighter Pensions - LOGASnet Returns: Pension Estimates 2017/18 - 2023/24 (P. Wright) pdf icon PDF 348 KB

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, circulated a copy of the ‘Financial Arrangements for Firefighter Pensions – LOGASnet Returns: Pension Estimates 2017/18 – 2023/24’, and advised that all fire and rescue authorities were required to submit pension estimates for the financial years 2017/18 to 2023/24 by close of play on Wednesday 6th September 2017.

 

The estimates for 2017/18 should be an update of the information previously submitted in September 2016 and this would form the basis for the grant payment due in July 2018. The 2018 Top Up Grant payment would consist of (i) 80% of any forecast pension deficit for the year 2018/19, (ii) the remainder of the 2017/18 requirement (based on final unaudited accounts to be submitted in May 2018) and (iii) any adjustments needed in respect to 2016/17 (based on audited accounts also to be submitted in May 2018).

 

In conclusion, Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, confirmed that GMFRS had submitted all pension estimates for financial years 2017/18 to 2023/24 by the deadline date.

 

Resolved: That the update, be noted.

 

7.

Pensions Administrator Update (P. Wright)

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, reported that since the last meeting Claire Hey, Pension Officer had left GMFRS and taken a position at the LGA as an Assistant Firefighter Pensions Advisor. A part-time officer had now been appointed to assist with the administration and the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Payroll.

 

In addition, Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator provided an update on the following statutory pension issues that the Payroll and Pensions Team had dealt with over recent months and would be dealing with over the coming months:-

 

-  Auto-Enrolment – It was reported that every 3 years all organisations must enrol all employees in the pension scheme and then employees had the opportunity to opt-out if they so wished. All firefighters were opted back into the pension scheme on 1st August 2017 and as at 10th September 2017 a total of 110 firefighters had opted-out of the pension scheme. The final number of opt-outs would not be known until the end of October 2017 due to the fact that this was the 3 month deadline date for employees to receive payback from the pension contributions paid.

-  Pensions Regulator – It was a requirement for all organisations to ensure that all information of the people that had opted-out of a pension scheme was kept and submitted to the Pensions Regulator by 18th January 2018. Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator was in the process of seeking advice from Pensions Regulator on the submission.

 

Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager advised that Penny Wright was the sole expert on Firefighters’ Pension Schemes and this was a risk to GMFRS. Therefore, it was the intention to employ another officer with pension experience, however, the problem being that there was a limited resource of people with firefighters’ pension scheme experience. It was reported that the risk had been logged on the Corporate Leadership Team Risk Register. In response, Councillor David Acton confirmed that this was a significant risk which needed to be raised with the Deputy Mayor, Beverley Hughes.

 

Resolved: That:

 

1.  The update and comments raised, be noted.

 

2.  The Deputy Mayor, Beverley Hughes be advised of the ‘Firefighter Pension Scheme Resource Risk’ that is listed on the Corporate Leadership Team Risk Register.

 

8.

Firefighter Pension Scheme Risk Register (P. Wright) pdf icon PDF 273 KB

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised on the current position of the management of risk relating to the firefighters’ pension schemes. It was reported that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) had published new quick guides on Integrated Risk Management. TPR had emphasised, as part of its Code of Practice, the importance of having a framework in place to help identify the risks facing a pension scheme, which could have a material impact on its ability to provide member benefits if they were not managed effectively. TPR suggested pension schemes should consider information drawn from a number of sources to help identify risks in the core areas of scheme governance and management, administration and member communications. The Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) were in the process of creating a standard ‘Firefighter Pensions Scheme Risk Register’ for Pension Boards to use. In the meantime Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) had created their own Risk Register that had been circulated, for reference.

 

Members agreed to adopt the Cheshire FRS Risk Register until a standard form had been created by the SAD.

 

A discussion was had on the process for the ‘Pensions Act 1995 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992 (FPS) Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP) Stage 2 Decision Under the IDRP’ due to the fact that the current process stated that these should be considered by the Fire Authority which had now been abolished and that the FBU should be consulted on any changes to the process.

 

Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager, requested that the concern raised by the employee representatives regarding the proposed change from Members (in the former Fire Authority) being involved in appeals at IDRP Stage 2 to it now being the decision of the GMCA Treasurer was included in the risk register. Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager, advised that she would provide an update at the next meeting of the Board.

 

Resolved: That:

 

1.  The Board adopt the Cheshire FRS Risk Register until a standard form had been created by the SAD.

 

2.  The concern raised regarding the proposed change in process for IDRP Stage 2 Appeals be included in the risk register and an update on the issues raised be provided at the next meeting of the Board.

 

9.

Member Self Service Proposals Update (P. Wright)

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised that a demonstration on the ‘Member Self Service’ scheme would be available at the next meeting of the Board Meeting.

 

Resolved: That the update, be noted.

 

10.

Pension Board Member Training - Pension Regulators Online Toolkit (P. Wright)

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised there was a Pensions Education Portal on The Pensions Regulator’s website that was available for anyone involved in the governance and administration of public sector pension schemes. A Public Service toolkit had been set-up to assist in the learning about managing public service pension schemes and featured the following various courses:-

 

-  Conflict of Interest;

-  Managing risk and internal controls;

-  Maintaining accurate member data;

-  Maintaining member contributions;

-  Providing information to members and others;

-  Resolving internal disputes;

-  Reporting breaches of the law.

 

Each module took approximately 30 minutes to complete and the Local Pensions Board agreed to complete two modules as a group at the next meeting of the Local Pensions Board.

 

Resolved: That:

 

1.  The update on the Pensions Education Portal available on The Pensions Regulator’s website, be noted.

 

2.  The Local Pensions Board to complete two modules on the Pensions Education Portal as a group at the next meeting of the Local Pensions Board.

 

11.

Pension Board Member Training and Development Programme 2016/17 and 2017/18(P. Wright) pdf icon PDF 318 KB

Minutes:

Donna Parker, Governance and Scrutiny, presented the ‘Local Pension Board – Firefighters Pension Scheme Training and Development Programme 2016/17 and 2017/18’ which included all training which had taken place and been attended to date. Members of the Pensions Board were requested to consider any further training needs they may require throughout the year and to advise the Donna Parker accordingly.

 

Members of the Pension Board requested that a refresher pensions training session with Clair Alcock, LGA was arranged and incorporate into the next Local Pension Board meeting in January 2018.

 

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised that a number of Tax Seminars specifically for Local Pension Board Members and Scheme Managers had been arranged in 2017/18 further details about the seminars would be issued in due course by the SAB. Dates would be circulated outside the meeting. Also, there was an opportunity for Board Members to attend other fire and rescue Pension Scheme Board Meetings as an observer to gather areas of good practice which GMFRS could adopt.

 

Resolved: That:

 

1.  The content of the ‘Local Pensions Board – Firefighters Pension Scheme Training and Development Programme 2016/17 and 2017/18’, be noted.

 

2.  Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, to arrange for a refresher pensions training session with Clair Alcock, LGA to be incorporated into the next Local Pension Board meeting in January 2018.

 

3.  Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, to circulate further information on the Tax Seminars that had been arranged by the SAB outside the meeting.

 

12.

Date of Next Meeting - To be Confirmed

Minutes:

Resolved: That the next meeting of the ‘GMFRS Local Pensions Board – Firefighters Pension Scheme’ take place in January 2018 – a date to be confirmed.