Agenda item


The Board is asked to note the content of this report and make recommendations if any further action is required.




Nick Weaver, Head of Pensions Administration

John Smith, Pension Governance and Employer Manager

Anna D’Alessandro, Director - Corporate Finance

Neil Mason, Strategic Finance Manager (Pensions)


Key points raised in the discussion:


  1. The Head of Pensions Administration emphasised the challenge in addressing the issues realistically by balancing ongoing projects with the changes necessary to ensure good performance. He added that small problems had cumulative impacts on managing the backlog effectively, such as the recent poor audit report which focused on the migration of the integrated payroll system, the need to acquire further modules for Altair in order to make immediate payments and the need to make adjustments if pay increases were greater than expected. Those difficulties were exacerbated because a key employee was on long-term sick leave and the software supplier had been contacted to provide specialist support.
  2. Responding to a Member query, the Head of Pensions Administration explained that annual events put pressure on the Pensions Administration team and although there were sufficient resources to manage them, prioritisation of workstreams was crucial.
  3. The Head of Pensions Administration noted the error last year concerning pensions increases, in which the letter to scheme members only stated the percentage increase and not the difference between the old and new pension - and the Pensions Helpdesk were not informed of the omission. The Head of Pensions Administration and the Pension Governance and Employer Manager stressed that more collaborative working between the Pensions Helpdesk and Pensions Administration team was essential and officers were seeking assurance for this year’s exercise.
  4. The Director - Corporate Finance explained that Internal Audit had completed two reviews of Pensions Administration over the last year and were currently formulating a position statement on the service. Progress was being made behind the scenes and a follow-up audit had been scheduled. She noted that areas of concern had been identified which provided clarity going forward. Governance would start to become more joined up with a monthly project board composed of senior officers to monitor actions from Internal Audit reports and the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support and the Executive Director - Resources would be cited on the performance of the Pensions Administration.
  5. The Head of Pensions Administration referred to the first annex of the actions tracker on Action A6/18 which presented a series of bar charts illustrating progress against agreed milestones in the service improvement plan for the first four months. He noted that the timescales provided were ambitious such as the procurement of the new system and its implementation later in the year.
  6. Responding to a Member, the Pension Governance and Employer Manager commented that the plans would need to be flexible as it would be difficult to obtain a temporary extension from the current supplier, Aquila Heywood. In response to the Chairman, the Head of Pensions Administration explained that the market had become more competitive as a result of the new LGPS pension systems procurement framework which was expected to be implemented shortly.
  7. Members questioned whether the Pensions Administration team required additional capacity to administer the large amount of projects in the annex on Action A6/18 and the projected timescales. In response the Head of Pensions Administration explained that empathy with customers was vital and had to be maintained while administrators implement the new system and i-Connect - as pensions concerned sensitive life events.
  8. The Pension Governance and Employer Manager identified that recruitment was a challenge across the LGPS and the Strategic Finance Manager (Pensions) and the Head of Pensions Administration responded that the Pensions Administration team were proactively managing and training their employees. In response to a Member query, the Director - Corporate Finance highlighted that the consultant ITM and external supplier JLT provided additional capability to Pensions Administration, but would follow-up the request for Internal Audit to quality assure the governance arrangements as external auditors were doing.
  9. Responding to a Member query on whether extra investment was needed, the Head of Pensions Administration noted that the use of money was important, an example was increasing efficiency through the two robots that had been created to process Deferred Benefits and Deferred into Payment quotations.




The Board noted the content of this report.


Actions/further information to be provided:


Internal Audit will quality assure the governance arrangements of the Pensions Administration team.


Supporting documents: