Agenda and draft minutes

Surrey Local Pension Board - Friday, 10 November 2023 10.30 am

Venue: Woodhatch Place, 11 Cockshot Hill, Reigate RH2 8EF

Contact: Angela Guest  Email: angela.guest@surreycc.gov.uk

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47/23

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

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    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Tim Evans and William McKee who both attended online.  David Lewis was the Vice Chair in the Chair.

     

48/23

VOTE OF THANKS

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    The Board to give vote of thanks to Fiona Skene who has retired from the Board.

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    Minutes:

    The Board were informed that Fiona Skene had resigned as a member of the Board.  Thanks was given for her contribution to the work of the Board over the last three years.

     

49/23

MINUTES FROM THE PREVIOUS MEETING: 28 JULY 2023 pdf icon PDF 173 KB

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    To agree the minutes as a true record of the meeting.

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    Minutes:

    The minutes were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

50/23

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

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    To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests from Members in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.

     

    Notes:

    ·         In line with the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012, declarations may relate to the interest of the member, or the member’s spouse or civil partner, or a person with whom the member is living as husband or wife, or a person with whom the member is living as if they were civil partners and the member is aware they have the interest.

    ·         Members need only disclose interests not currently listed on the Register of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

    ·         Members must notify the Monitoring Officer of any interests disclosed at the meeting so they may be added to the Register.

    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

     

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    There were none.

51/23

QUESTIONS AND PETITIONS

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    To receive any questions or petitions.

     

    Notes:

     

    1. The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (6/11/23).

    2. The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting (3/11/23)

    3. The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    There were none.

52/23

GLOSSARY, ACTION TRACKER & FORWARD PLAN pdf icon PDF 99 KB

53/23

CHANGE PROGRAMME UPDATE - QUARTER 3 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

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    This paper details the Change Team Quarterly Report for the period July - September 2023.

     

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    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Nicole Russell, Head of Change Management

    Bradley Coxon, Senior Project Specialist

    Neil Mason, LGPS Senior Officer

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    A few Members stated they were unable to gain access to the dashboard. Officers to investigate access issues.

    2.    The Senior Project Specialist gave a detailed working presentation of the dashboard and the information that could be viewed. 

    3.    The Board requested that the arrows should indicate trends compared to the previous data.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    1.    To address the issue of access for Members.

     

    Recommendations:

    The Board noted the content of this report and made recommendations for the improvement of the dashboard.

     

54/23

SUMMARY OF THE PENSION FUND COMMITTEE MEETING OF 8 SEPTEMBER 2023 pdf icon PDF 155 KB

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    This report provides the Local Pension Board (the Board) with a summary of the Surrey Pension Fund Committee (the Committee) meeting held since the last meeting of the Board.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Nick Harrison, Chairman of Pension Fund Committee

    Neil Mason, LGPS Senior Officer

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Chairman of Pension Fund Committee highlighted a few areas discussed at the last Committee meeting, these were:

    • The Committee considered the cybersecurity review of third party providers and the committee has asked the Board to further investigate.
    • The Committee made a change from LGIM passive fund to a Border to Coast actively managed fund. It was stated that there was a journey to move the vast majority of assets to Border to Coast.
    • With regards to investment benchmarking the Committee had looked to see how costs compared with the market and other providers. The Committee were reassured in that the Fund‘s fees were reasonable..
    • With regards to the TCFD climate related financial disclosures report the Committee were reassured that that the trend of a reduction in carbon exposure had continued. 

    2.    A Member stated that the pension fund was increasingly required by government to direct an element of its assets in a particular direction and asked if there will an attempt to measure that and any impact on the overall return. The LGPS Senior Officer explained that the recent government consultation response did include requirement to consider assets connected to the UK Levelling Up themes and also an encouragement to invest 10% of assets in private equity. The government’s response will be considered, however, all asset allocation decisions made by the Committee will be consistent with the Fund’s investment strategy. An example of this was the work that is ongoing with Border to Coast, to design a Fund that realised opportunities in the UK, which are complementary to the Fund’s current private market exposure.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None

     

    Recommendations:

    The Board noted the report.

     

    The Board agreed to rearrange the following two item so that the Risk Register report was considered prior to the Administration report.

     

55/23

RISK REGISTER UPDATE 2023/24 QUARTER 2 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

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    This report considers changes made to the risk register for the Surrey Pension Team in Quarter 2 of 2023/24. 

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Paul Titcomb, Head of Accounting & Governance

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Head of Accounting & Governance introduced the submitted report and highlighted the following areas:

    • With regards to risk 16, several data population and access availability issues followed the initial go live with MySurrey. Process backlogs had built up as a result.  Delayed processing remained a risk primarily due to ongoing configuration issues and the risk score has consequently been raised this quarter and would remain under review.
    • Regarding the MySurrey implementation, the system is being populated but there were continued difficulties in extracting data.  There were several reports required that were not yet configured. There were resource intensive work-arounds in place and a solution was being progressed. There were other processing issues and payroll information remained an issue. An issues log had been compiled.

    2.    A Member asked if the system was implemented too early and whether there had been enough testing.  The Head of Accounting & Governance responded that he could only speak from the perspective of the Pension Fund, but, that some additional testing for pensions may have been beneficial, for example with regards to reporting.  Some generic reports were being used within the system, but irrelevant data had needed to be filtered and checked line by line.  The ability to configure the exact fields needed from the reports was currently missing.

    3.    A Member asked if there was a timescale to the additional treat mechanisms on the risk register because it appeared that some of them were what you would want to have at the beginning of the implementation. 

    4.    The Head of Accounting & Governance explained that they were working closely with the Digital, Business & Insights (DB&I) Team.  The MySurrey helpdesk ticketing system had been used to make sure that concerns were raised within their own helpdesk and at the moment it was difficult to put time frames on it.  Another issue was that the period of assistance by the original project team was originally three months post Go Live, had been extended to the end of the year but some of the people dealt with initially had left, so there was a further transition issue on the assistance that was available.

    5.    A few Members, echoed by the Chairman of the Board, expressed concern about this issue which was systemic in that it affected so much of what can be done in terms of functioning of the Pensions Team and requested the issue be escalated to the Committee, and more generally, because it didn't only affect the Pensions Team.  It was agreed that the Chairmen of the Board and Committee meet with the Director of Corporate Finance & Commercial along with the LGPS Senior Officer to discuss the form of escalation.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    That the Chairmen of the Board and Committee meet with the Director of Corporate Finance & Commercial along with the LGPS Senior Officer to discuss escalation of the MySurrey issues.

     

    Recommendations:

    1.    The Board noted the report,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55/23

56/23

ADMINISTRATION PERFORMANCE REPORT AND UPDATE - 28 JULY 2023 TO 30 SEPTEMBER 2023 pdf icon PDF 171 KB

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    The purpose of this report is to provide an update on the current status and progress against any specific target dates.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Tom Lewis, Head of Service Delivery

    Neil Mason, LGPS Senior Officer

    Sandy Armstrong, Technical Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Head of Service Delivery highlighted several aspects of the submitted report including:

     

    • It had been a testing period regarding the team’s performance. Delivery was not at the level hoped or planned to be in the future. There had been an impact felt through the MySurrey with a 20% increase in cases that are coming from the customer relationship team (CRT) through to the back office. Not all the issues were due to MySurrey. There were known areas needing improvement; standardisation of processes and maximising the system that we have in place was being looked at.
    • Development of staff was being undertaken continually alongside regular meetings in the future with immediate benefits teams to discuss performance issues and improve internal governance and communication.  It had been recognised that resilience of the immediate benefits team was not what it should and resources had been realigned with a move of three staff into that team from other areas.  The impact of this had been assessed.  Some improvement in the October figures around death grants and the retirements had already been seen
    • Work with the DB&I team and payroll to fill the gaps in terms of receiving information was ongoing, but there was not a clear indication of resolution from the DB&I team.
    • Annex 1 figures had changed quite significantly. As an example, looking at deferred status the opening balance was quite high and now had come right down but that was due to the backlog being segregated from the day to day work.  Next quarter figures should be a true indication of what is in operational BAU and the legacy team work will be in a in a separate space.

    2.    A Member asked if that meant that people coming to retirement in some cases were not receiving their pension on the due date.  The Head of Service Delivery explained that there could be a six to seven week period depending on when information was received and where that fell into the cycle. Also, the speed in which information was received from the person taking their pension was important.  However, in terms of missed Service Level Agreements (SLA) this was somewhere in the region of one to five days.  There were too many that were falling in the days just over the SLA.

    3.    A Member raised concern about ill health retirements as these were in a potentially vulnerable position regarding late payments so should be prioritised and asked if payment could be made prior to receiving full information and then revisiting once all information had been received.  He also asked if there was something more fundamentally wrong that the Board should know about and referred to the movement of staff between teams that had been reported.

    4.    The Head of Service delivery confirmed that ill health retirements were prioritised.  He explained the new daily allocation of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56/23

57/23

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN UPDATE pdf icon PDF 141 KB

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    This report considers proposals to establish a pension fund specific Business Continuity Plan. 

     

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    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Paul Titcomb, Head of Accounting & Governance

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Head of Accounting & Governance introduced the submitted report and explained that there was a continued reliance on others for business continuity procedures, not least the major software provider, Heywood and of course Surrey County Council for IT and property infrastructure. It was aimed to develop an overarching business continuity plan for the pension scheme, which would be informed by the business impact assessments and other protocols used by Surrey.  Work on this would happen in the coming months and the aim was to report to the board in May of 2024.

    2.     A Member asked whether there would be a test and not just a desktop exercise.  The Head of Accounting & Governance responded that this was reliant on others currently.

    3.    A Member stated that business continuity was a different issue to cybersecurity even though interconnected.  He asked if they were to be reported on separately or are they being always looked at together?  The Head of Accounting & Governance responded that it was the intention to ensure that a distinction was made.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None

     

    Recommendations:

    The Board noted the report.

     

58/23

INTERNAL AUDIT PROGRESS REPORT NOVEMBER 2023 pdf icon PDF 64 KB

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    The purpose of this progress report is to inform the Board of the work completed by Internal Audit in quarter two and provide an update on any high priority actions due for implementation.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Liam Pippard, Principal Auditor

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Principal Auditor highlighted the following points from the report:

    • High priority actions due for implementation are tracked. There were currently none outstanding, or due for implementation, for that quarter.
    • Point 3 of Annex A on the pension fund audit plan: Two audits had started and an update would be brought to the next Board meeting.
    • The team were currently in process for completing the administration review of transfers in.
    • With regards to the follow up of banking controls review, that depended on certain circumstances that would be agreed with the pensions team and it was hoped this would be completed in quarter four.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None.

     

    Recommendations:

    The Board noted the report.

     

59/23

EXTERNAL AUDIT UPDATE pdf icon PDF 119 KB

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    This report provides an update to the External Audit of the 2021/22 and 2022/23 Financial Statements.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Paul Titcomb, Head of Accounting & Governance

    Neil Mason, LGPS Senior Officer

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Head of Accounting & Governance highlighted several issues includes including:

    • that the audit opinions on the 2021/22 accounts for the Council and the pension fund were issued by the auditors on the 23 of October
    • the 2022/23 audit work was progressing well
    • Query responses from the pension team side are substantially complete.
    • Grant Thornton was reviewing the resources they required in order to progress the audit of both the Council and the pension fund through the next few weeks
    • the requirement is to provide an annual report by 1 December and if the audited accounts were still not available then the report would be submitted with the unaudited accounts.

    2.    Following a Member statement that delayed audit opinions were not good. This was acknowledged by officers, however, it was again noted that the pension fund accounts were currently interconnected to the Surrey County Council accounts, with a mutual reliance. This arrangement has been highlighted by the LGPS Scheme Advisory Board to the government as being sub-optimal, with a separation of council and pension fund accounts being desirable. 

    3.    It was reported that there would be a new external auditor next year.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None.

     

    Recommendations:

    The Board noted the status of the External Audit work.

     

     

60/23

LGPS UPDATE (BACKGROUND PAPER) pdf icon PDF 175 KB

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    This report considers recent developments in the LGPS

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    Minutes:

    Speakers:

    Sandy Armstrong – Technical Manager

     

    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1.    The Technical Manager highlighted a couple of areas in the report:

    • McCloud, which had already been spoken about and,
    • SCAPE factors – this was where cases were on hold because of the change in the discount rate, those factors had all been issued now and there were no longer any cases on hold because of that. 

    2.    Following a Member query, it was confirmed that it was the DWP that had conducted an independent review of The Pension Regulator.

     

    Actions/ further information to be provided:

    None.

     

    Recommendations:

    The Board noted the report.

     

61/23

DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING

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    The next meeting is scheduled for 16 February 2024.

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    Minutes:

    The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, 16 February 2024.