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Agenda and minutes

GMFRS Local Pensions Board - Firefighters Pension Scheme
Wednesday, 17th January, 2018 9.30 am

Venue: Britannia Room, Fire Service Headquarters, 146 Bolton Road, Swinton, M27 8US

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

Items
No. Item

13.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Gary Keary (Employee Side Representative).

 

14.

Declaration of any Conflicts of Interest pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest received.

 

15.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Minutes:

Resolved: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4th October 2017 were approved as a correct record, subject to the following amendment:-

 

Minute 7 – Pension Administrator Update (P. Wright)

 

That the second bullet point in the second paragraph of the minute be amended to read as follows:-

 

-  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 the Pensions Regulator on the submission.

 

16.

Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Minutes:

The following update was provided on the Action Sheet:-

 

Action 3 – Employee Named Substitute Appointment: Reference was made to the outstanding action. In response, Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager, advised that an application process for substitute appointments was advertised in August 2015 and no interest was received. Also, if the membership of the Employee representation was increased then so would the membership of the Employer representative to ensure that each side had the same number of representatives. The Employer representative would need to be appointed by the GMCA. 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.

 

In response, the Board felt that 2 representatives from each side was appropriate at the current time and this could be reviewed if circumstances were to change in the future.

 

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

 

17.

Member Self Service Demonstration by Aquila Heywood (Consultant)

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised that at the last meeting a demonstration on the ‘Member Self Service’ was requested (Minute 9 refers).

 

Two representative from Aquila Heywood (Consultants) were in attendance and advised that Aquila Heywood built modern software solutions for businesses, pension providers and third parties that help transform how their members manage their lifelong financial journeys. It was reported that the public sector had now started to adopt digital engagement solutions and data analytics to drive service and value, and efficient workflows to reduce cost-per-member overheads. A demonstration of the site and its capabilities was given which included an example on how an employee would gain access to their pension information using the system.

 

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised that the Service would reduce the time spent by officers in responding to requests for additional calculations and would make the information more open and transparent to staff. A sentence would need to be included stating that the information provided was a rough estimate, to protect the Pensions Team.

 

It was reported that the approximate cost of implementation of the Service would be £44,000 and the annual maintenance costs would be approximately £15,000. The Service could be branded to match the GMFRS website.

 

In conclusion, Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager and Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator agreed to arrange a meeting with ICT to discuss the proposal in further detail prior to the next meeting of the Board.

 

The Chair took the opportunity to thank the representatives from Aquila Heywood (Consultants) for the informative presentation.

 

Resolved: That:

 

1.  The content of the demonstration and comments raised, be noted.

 

2.  Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager and Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator to meet with ICT to discuss the proposal in further detail and report the outcomes to the next meeting of the Board.

 

18.

Local Pension Board Survey Completion (Penny Wright) pdf icon PDF 293 KB

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pension Administrator reported that Regulation 4a of The Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (Amendment) (Governance) Regulations 2015 required Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) to establish local pension boards by 1st April 2015 to assist them in the effective administration and governance of the scheme. Given the passage of time since the establishment of local pension boards, the Scheme Advisory Board considered that it would be appropriate and timely to test the effectiveness and operational efficiency of the new governance arrangements with particular emphasis on the role and function of local pension boards and interaction with their scheme manager.

 

All relevant stakeholders had been invited to participate in a web-based survey and, to ensure impartiality, the link to the survey had been sent separately to FRA scheme managers, practitioners, and their local pension board who were welcome to complete the same survey independently. However, this was not to exclude any scheme manager and their local pension board from collaborating on their respective responses where this was agreed locally.

 

The link to the survey had also been circulated to other interested bodies, including relevant government departments, and FRAs were invited to publicise the survey locally on their websites. The survey would run for a minimum period of six weeks, and a further email would be sent in due course to confirm the closing date.

 

The Board requested that a collaborative response between the Board and Scheme Manager was submitted and that the Scheme Manager complete the survey on behalf of the Board and circulate for comments prior to submission.

 

Resolved: That the Scheme Manager prepare a collaborative response to the survey and circulate to the Board for comments prior to submission.

 

19.

Local Pension Board Annual Conference 2018 (Penny Wright)

Minutes:

Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator advised that the Firefighters’ Pensions England Scheme Advisory Board was holding its Annual Conference 2018 on 9th and 10th October 2018 in London further details would be available nearer the time. If any Board Member wished to attend please advise Penny Wright, Pensions Administration.

 

Resolved: That the update on the Firefighters’ Pensions England Scheme Advisory Board Annual Conference 2018, be noted.

 

20.

Administration Update (Penny Wright)

Minutes:

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 101 firefighters were opted back into the pension scheme on 1st August 2017 and after 3 months 91 had decided to opt-back out of the pension scheme again. The Regulator had been notified of the outcome and GMFRS had meet the necessary requirements for the next 3 years.

-  Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures, IDRP 1 and IDRP 2 - The Pensions Act 1995 required both the firefighter and local government pension schemes to have Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures, IDRP 1 and IDRP 2 which followed three stages:-

 

  1. Initial Decision
  2. IDRP 1
  3. IDRP 2

 

IDRP stages for Firefighter Pension Schemes disputes:-

a.  Initial Decision – Assistant Director (People) 

b.  IDRP 1 – Interim Chief Fire Officer

c.  IDRP 2 – Treasurer (previously an Appeals Sub-Committee of the Fire Authority)

 

IDRP stages for LGPS Disputes - 

 

  1. Initial Decision – Interim Chief Fire Officer 
  2. IDRP 1 – Treasurer (previously an Appeals Sub-Committee of the Fire Authority)
  3. IDRP 2 – Tameside Council for IDRP 2 (previously an Appeals Sub-Committee of the Fire Authority)

 

In practice there is also an officer Pensions Working Group which considers issues/cases and make recommendations.

 

Resolved: That the update, be noted.

 

21.

Risk Register Update (Penny Wright)

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.

 

Resolved: That the Board adopt the Cheshire FRS Risk Register until a standard form had been created by the SAD.

 

22.

Pension Board Member Training and Development 2017/18 (Donna Parker) pdf icon PDF 320 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 April 2018.

 

It was reported that a full-day of Scheme Advisory Board training was taking place on 19th June 2018 in London if any Members, wished to attend please advised Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator accordingly.

 

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 April 2018.

 

23.

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 April 2018 – a date to be confirmed.