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Agenda and minutes

GMFRS Local Pensions Board - Firefighters Pension Scheme
Monday, 22nd February, 2016 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Donna Parker, Democratic Services Manager  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence submitted.



Declaration of any Conflicts of Interest pdf icon PDF 219 KB


There were no Declarations of any Conflict of Interest submitted.



Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 92 KB


AGREED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 23rd September 2015 were approved as a correct record.



Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 65 KB


The following update was provided on the Action Sheet:-


Action 3 - Employer Named Substitute Appointment


Since the last meeting Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator in consultation with the Paul Argyle, Chairman and Employer Side Representative, had established an ‘Expression of Interest’ process to recruit an employee named substitute to the Board. The advert was published on the BigRed and Routine Circular the closing date for applications was 27th November 2015 and no applications were received.


It was agreed that rather than re-advertise the Board would wait for further guidance from the Scheme Advisory Board once it was established in April / May 2016.


Action 2 - Employee Named Substitute Appointment


Paul Argyle, Chairman and Employer Side Representative, advised he would wait for further guidance from the Scheme Advisory Board once it was established in April / May 2016 prior to asking the Corporate Leadership Team to appoint a named substitute.


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



GAD v Milne (P. Wright) pdf icon PDF 335 KB


Penny Wright, Pension Administrator, advised that a recent court ruling ‘GAD v Milne’ meant that GMFRA was required to meet back dated revised lump sum and pension costs of firefighters that had retired between 2001 and 2006.


All retired firefighters who were affected by this court ruling were written to in December 2015 detailing reimbursement amounts and full and final settlements would be paid by the end of February 2016. To date all 451 retired firefighters had been paid on 1st February 2016, at a cost of £6.4million. Three cases were outstanding where the retired firefighter had deceased and status of the estate was required.


The cost would be funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in the form of an additional top-up grant.


AGREED: That the update be noted and further updates would be provided accordingly.



Pensions Administrator Update (P. Wright)

-  Contract Out Changes

-  Pension Scheme Discretions

-  Update on Scheme Advisory Board

-  Norman v Cheshire Update

-  Protected Pension Ages – Re-employment Policy


Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, provided an update on the following:-


1.  Contract Out Changes


A new single tire, flat rate State Pension was being introduced for people that reach the State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 and would replace the existing basic and additional State Pension. Members of the Firefighters Pension Scheme (FPS) were currently ‘contacted out’ of the additional State Pension and therefore received a rebate on their National Insurance Contributions. This meant that most members of the FPS were currently paying a lower amount of National Insurance contributions and from 6th April 2016 the rebate would no longer exist and a higher amount of National Insurance contributions would be paid.


A discussion was had on how to communicate the information to members of the FPS prior to April 2016 to reduce the number of queries to both the Payroll and Pensions Teams. Gary Keary, Employee Side Representative stated that he would email all members of the FPS advising them of the change including the briefing note, that had been circulated at the meeting by Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, for their information. Paul Argyle, Chairman and Employer Side Representative, advised that he would also email all Firefighters advising them of the change and ensure that communications was published on the BigRed, Routine Circular and CLT Update.


2.  Pension Discretions for the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 2015


The Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (England) Regulations 2014, which introduced the 2015 Scheme, contained a number of discretions exercisable by the Scheme Manager (the Authority). The Local Government Association (LGA) had issued guidance to the Fire and Rescue Authorities and had urged them to determine their approach to the relevant discretions. There were 52 discretions and the following 4 required an Authority decision:-


-  Continued Professional Development (CPD) – Regulation 17(1)(D);

-  Employer Initiated Retirement – Regulations 62(1) and (2);

-  Payment of Contributions – Regulation 111(2), (3) and (4);

-  Transfer Request Time Limits – Regulation 141 (3).


A report would be submitted to a future meeting of the Authority on the above.


3.  Update on the Scheme Advisory Board


It was reported that there had been a delay in establishing the Scheme Advisory Board due to the move from DCLG to the Home Office. It was anticipated that the Board would be set-up by April/May 2016.


4.  Norman v Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS)


The legal case ‘Norman v Cheshire FRS’ surrounded the issue of pensionable pay and the interpretation of Rule G1 of the 1992 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme. The decision clarified that Rule G1 meant that the consolidated pay received by Firefighters working the Day Crewing system fell within the meaning of pensionable pay.  In addition to the decision it was agreed that flexible duty payable to Officers working the Flexible Duty System and London Weighting was also pensionable.


It was reported that with regard to GMFRS the ruling had affected 91 retired firefighters from 2006 and each case had been settled. The Pensions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Pension Board Member Training – What Next (P. Wright)


Penny Wright, Pension Administrator, advised that as requested at the last meeting all Board Members had completed and returned the Training Needs Analysis form to the Democratic Services Manager.


It was reported a Joint Pension Board Training Session with Employees and Employers Representatives from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and GMFRS took place on Wednesday 6th January 2016 at the Training and Development Centre, Manchester. The session was hosted by Penny Wright, GMFRS Pensions Administrator and Clair Alcock from the LGA was also in attendance and provided a presentation on the Pension Board Member responsibilities.


Paul Argyle, Chairman and Employer Side Representative, Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager and Paul Etches, Employee Side Representative had attended and advised that the session was extremely useful and informative. Due to a number of Board Members and Officers not being able to attend it was agreed that a second ‘Mop-Up’ session should take place over half a day at the end of March 2016 and colleagues from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service that also missed the original session should also be invited for attend along with members of the Corporate Leadership Team.


AGREED: That the Democratic Services Manager and Pension Administrator arrange a second ‘Mop-Up’ Pension Board Training Session to take place in March 2016 and to invite colleagues from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.



Any Other Business


Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, raised the following statutory pension issues that were due to affect the GMFRS Pension Team over the next 12 months:-


-  Annual Benefit Statements: This was due to be issued by the end of August 2016;

-  Tri-Annual Evaluation: The deadline to submit this information to DCLG was 11th August 2016;

-  Changes to the Lifetime Allowance and Annual Allowance: The re-calculations were due to be issued by the end of September 2016;

-  Guarantee Minimum Pension Guidance for active or deferred members: This was due to be produced by mid-2017;

-  18/20 Repayment – DCLG were waiting for the regulations to change then guidance would be published to advise who would be affected and detail arrangements for repayment, if required.


AGREED: That the update, be noted.



Date of Next Meeting - Wednesday 18th May 2016 at 2.00pm


AGREED: That the next meeting of the Local Pensions’ Board be held on 18th May 2016 at 2.00pm in the CLT Room.