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Agenda and minutes

GMFRS Local Pensions Board - Firefighters Pension Scheme
Wednesday, 8th February, 2017 3.00 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


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



Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 81 KB


Resolved: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 28th September 2016 were approved as a correct record.



Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 85 KB


The following updates was provided on the Action Sheet:-


Action 3 – Employee Named Substitute Appointment: Gary Keary, Employee Representation sent a letter to Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager on 6th February 2017 titled ‘LPB – Make-up of Employee Representatives’. The letter detailed the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) concerns that the appointment of the Employee Representatives on the Local Pension Board did not reflect the majority of scheme members that were represented by the FBU. The letter advised that the ‘Firefighters’ Pension Scheme Guidance’ on the creation and operation of Local Pension Boards in England’ stated the following:-


“Appointment of Local Pension Board Members


Paragraph 2.12 – Each employer or member representative on a Local Pension Board must be able to represent employers or members (as appropriate). It is therefore important that the methodology for appointment ensures that representative Board Members are truly representative.


Paragraph 2.13 – All employers and eligible members must have equal opportunity to be nominated for the role of employer or member representative through an open and transparent process.


Capacity of Representative Members


Paragraph 2.19 – An individual’s ability to properly represent the interests of employers or members (as appropriate) and channel information back to those persons effectively should also be a key factor in selecting members of the Local Pension Board. This needs to take account of the wide range of membership to ensure all employers and all members are represented.”


In response, Malcolm Eastwood, Chairman of the English Scheme Advisory Board, advised that it was the responsibility of the Scheme Manager to set the remit and appoint to the Local Pensions Board. Paul Argyle, Chairman, advised that the employee representatives should involve other unions and not just the FBU.


It was agreed that Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager, would investigate the matter in further detail and bring her findings to the next meeting of the Local Pensions Board.


Action 11 – Scheme Advisory Board Event October 2016: Complete.


Action 12 – Transfer to Greater Manchester Combined Authority: Agenda Item (Minute 28 refers).


Action 13 – Regulators Pack: Agenda Item (Minute 30 refers).



Declaration of any Conflicts of Interest


There were no Declarations of any Conflict of Interest submitted.



Malcolm Eastwood, Scheme Advisory Board Chairman - Introduction and Update on the Scheme Advisory Board Progress


Malcolm Eastwood, Chairman of the English Scheme Advisory Board (SAB), was in attendance and provided an update on the role and responsibilities of the English Scheme Advisory Board. From January 2016 the SAB moved under the Home Office. The membership of the SAB was 14 Members and included 7 Employer Representatives in the form of Councillors and 7 Employee representatives in the form of representatives from various union bodies. To date four meetings had taken place which had set the role and responsibilities of the SAB, the cost of running the scheme and the cost of running the scheme per authority.


He advised that the Pensions Regulator website was a useful tool and provided useful information and training that would assist in running the local pensions board meetings. The SAB were looking at introducing a ‘Dashboard Scheme’ that would provide individuals with up to date pension information. Further updates on its progress would be provided by Clair Alcock, Firefighter Technical Advisor.


Macolm Eastwood, Chairman of the English Advisory Board advised that he had attended a number of local pension board meetings and they were all ran very different some use external resources unlike GMFRS that use in-house resources.


The Chairman thanked Malcolm Eastwood for attending the meeting.


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



Clair Alcock, Firefighter Technical Advisor - Introduction and Update of National Issues and Potential Future Work Priorities


Clair Alcock, Firefighter Technical Advisor was in attendance and provided an update on the national issues and potential work priorities of the Local Pensions Board moving forward.


She advised that Members of the Scheme Advisory Board had recently received training on 18/20 Repayment and changes to the tax regime. A booklet had been put together to assist both Members and Officers in arranging training and included various options on how to deliver training. National training sessions for the local pension board Members would be arranged for more complex issues as and when required.


It was reported that there were minor amendments to the 2015 Firefighter Pension Scheme rules. These changes were to provide further clarity rather than to introduce changes to the scheme.


Members and Officers had a discussion on the various training options available to the Local Pensions Board.


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



Pensions Administrator Update (P. Wright)


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:-


-  18/20 Repayment: A change to regulations went through Parliament on 30th September 2016 and changes to guidance had been published by the Home Office to advise who would be affected and detail arrangements for repayment, if required. This only affected individuals in the 1992 Pension Scheme. There was a commitment that all payment would be made by 31st March 2017, however, due to the timescale of payroll the payments would be made on 4th April 2017. Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, would write to all effected members to make them aware of the payment date.

-  1% Pensions Increase: Members of the pensions scheme would receive a 1% pay increase from 1st April 2017 and the Payroll and Pensions Team would need to update the payroll system manually to include the new payment figures.


It was reported that two Pensions Act 1995 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992 (FPS) Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure (IDRP) Stage 2 Decision Under the IDRP unsuccessful appeals had been referred by the appellants to the Pensions Ombudsman. The Deputy Clerk and Authority Solicitor had prepared a response and the outcome on both cases from the Ombudsman was outstanding.


Resolved: That the updates provided and comments raised, be noted.



Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Update) (N. Purcell)


Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager provided an update on the transition to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) arrangements following the Mayoral Election on 4th May 2017.


It was confirmed that the responsibility for the Firefighter Pensions Schemes would transfer to the GMCA and a meeting was due to take place with Richard Paver, GMCA Treasurer to discuss the matter in further detail. Once arrangements had been confirmed communication would be circulated to all current and retired firefighters in the various schemes.


Nina Purcell, Scheme Manager would include the matter on the ‘Risk and Issues Log’


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



Member Self Service Proposal (P. Wright)


Penny Wright, Pensions Administrator, advised that a report had been prepared which sought approval for the implementation of the Member Self-Service (MSS) module within the ‘altair’ pension administration system for the Firefighters Pension Scheme.


The Local Pensions Board were advised that GMFRS currently administered a number of Firefighters Pension Schemes for uniformed members of staff. The administration was time consuming and, in some instances, costly and stricter governance controls had increased the administrative burden. Improvements to processes to make the Payroll and Pension Function more efficient and allow for enhanced customer service was being sought. The introduction of the MSS module would allow members to perform their own retirement profiling based on real time information, reducing estimate request to the team. Communications to members would become increasingly automated and sent electronically, saving time and money, whilst still meeting statutory disclosure requirements.


A report detailing the proposals would be submitted to a future Leadership Team meeting for consideration before the end of the financial year. An update on the outcome from this meeting would be submitted to a future meeting of the Pensions Board.


The Local Pensions Board welcomed the proposal and supported its implementation.


Resolved: That:


1.  The update on the Member Self Service Proposal, be noted.


2.  An update on the consideration from Leadership Team meeting, be submitted to a future meeting of the Local Pensions Board.



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


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.


Pensions Board Member Training and Development Programme 2016/17 (P. Wright) pdf icon PDF 275 KB


Donna Parker, Democratic Services Manager presented the ‘Local Pension Board – Firefighters Pension Scheme Training and Development Programme 2016/17’ 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 Democratic Services Manager accordingly.


It was agreed that at the next meeting of the Local Pensions Board a session would take place to work on completing the Pensions Regulators Online Toolkit (Minute 31 refers).


Resolved: That the content of the ‘Local Pensions Board – Firefighters Pension Scheme Training and Development Programme 2016/17’, be noted.


Date of Next Meeting - To be Confirmed


Resolved: That the next meeting be arranged to take place at the end of April 2017.