The Board is asked to note the content of the report and make recommendations if any further action is required.
Andrew Marson, Pensions Lead Manager
Lindsey Shaw, Workforce Information Officer
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Pensions Lead Manager introduced the report and informed the Board of the areas of work the Pensions Administration team were currently involved in.
2. The Chairman noted that the Board had previously been provided with statistics on the number of days it had taken to process cases and that these had always been satisfactory. It was agreed that the Pensions Lead Manager would provide these statistics at future Board meetings.
3. The Board heard about the investment that was taking place in the Pensions Administration team and how they were building the strength and experience of their assurance and communications roles. The Pensions Lead Manager stated that this would allow them to look specifically at what was emerging with regards to policy, regulatory change and legal proceedings.
4. Moving on to the retained firefighters project, the Board was informed that of the 212 affected members, 185 had been collated and 82 had their calculations of benefits assessed. Pensions Administration were now looking to explore how they might be able to increase the pace of progress.
5. A Member of the Board asked about the expected completion date for the retained firefighters project and was told that it was originally the middle of May 2019 but now looked as if it was going to be closer to the middle or end of June 2019.
6. The Pensions Lead Manager discussed GMP information and explained the work that Pensions Administration had been doing with Jardine Lloyd Thompson. The Board heard that all of the queries raised with HMRC had been returned to JLT, who were looking through the data to determine the membership reconciliation position. A final position was expected to be reached by September 2019.
7. Responding to a question about whether or not Pensions Administration received information about ombudsman cases, the Pensions Lead Manager informed the Board that they did not. The Pensions Lead Manager agreed to check their sources and make sure the scope of the information they received was as complete as possible.
8. The Chairman asked what work had been done regarding the issues outlined in Fire Bulletin 18 in the report and was told by the Pensions Lead Manager that he would have to examine this further before informing the Board at its next meeting. The Chairman then asked for bulletins to be presented at all future meetings.
9. The Board heard from the Workforce Information Officer, who discussed missing contributions resulting from strike action. The officer informed Members that 360 people had owed contributions, and that letters had been sent to them a month previously asking for the required information to be sent back. 270 replies had then been received, collated into spreadsheets and sent to the payroll team on the morning of the meeting, and the issue was on track to be resolved by July 2019.
10. A Member of the Board expressed their concern about the number of outstanding letters and cases involving correspondence being sent to previous addresses. They then went on to discuss their concern about the performance of Orbis and issues relating to pay. One example was concerned with backdated pay not being applied after pay rises had been issued, and this had resulted in a breakdown in the link between pay and pensions. Referring to correspondence being sent to the wrong addresses, the Workforce Information Officer informed the Member that any incorrect addresses were yet to be changed by Employee Services and that she would check on those members who were yet to reply.
11. Referring to the January to June quadrants on the Scheme Year Cycle, the Pensions Lead Manager told the Board that Pensions Administration had plans in place to progress through each of the key exercises outlined. He went on to explain that the service were looking to build on the work already done by identifying the specific activities that needed to be undertaken in order to make sure the key events were completed. This would allow a calendar of events to be produced and presented to the Board at future meetings and would act as a guide that work was being completed.
12. The Chairman asked if the August deadline for the annual benefit cycle was in risk and was told by the Pensions Lead Manager that it was not. Data had been returned on time and Pensions Administration were about to start the next stage of identifying if there were any queries.
Actions/further information to be provided:
1. The Pensions Lead Manager is to provide future Board meetings with statistics on how long it had taken cases to be processed.
2. Fire Bulletins are to be presented to the Board by the Pensions Lead Manager at future meetings.
3. The Workforce Information Officer is to contact pension scheme members directly to make sure their addresses are correct.
The Board noted the content of the report.