The Board has requested an update on Scheme management activities.
Sally Wilson, Scheme Manager
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The Scheme Manager introduced the report and provided a brief summary. Members noted:
a. In regard to Age Discrimination, good progress had been made on the data collection exercise and that it was due for completion.
b. the Service were notified at the end of October 2022 and via the FBU website of the compensation some of the Service’s members were set to receive following complaints logged regarding the closure of the 1992 and 2006 pensions schemes. Officers were still awaiting details on how this would progress. The Chairman asked for detail on which organisation would provide the compensation noted within paragraph 2.4 of the report. The Scheme Manager said that officers were waiting for more information however it was believed that the funds would be provided by the Government. A Board Member provided further detail on the matter and explained that the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) were reviewing responses to the survey and that claims made in 2015 would be processed first then claims made in 2020 would be processed next.
c. In regard to 10% Pensionable Allowances, the Scheme Manager explained that the service had met with the FBU during the summer period and that the Service had not received any further feedback or details of the legal advice the FBU had gained. Further to this, Members noted that calculations had been finalised for all Priority Groups apart from Priory Group Seven. The calculations for this cohort were in progress.
d. Details related to the Modified Scheme as noted within the action tracker.
e. In regard to pension policy, the Pension Project Team had created an overarching policy for the Service’s pensions. Amendments had been made to the policy which was at the final stage of approval before it is placed onto SharePoint for the members of the Service to access. The Chairman suggested that, following approval, the final version of the document was brought to the Board for noting, which was agreed.
f. That the internal Audit Team at Surrey County Council had completed their audit on the contract between XPS Administration and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. The overall assurance rating was deemed as ‘reasonable’ with five medium rated findings. The Scheme Manager noted that the outcomes to the audit would be brought to the next Board meeting for consideration.
g. That a business case had been approved for a Pensions Support Assistant to join the Pension team and that the service was working through the recruitment process.
h. That the creation of an ill health retirement policy is underway and was due to be available for review in early 2023. In the interim, quarterly meetings continued to take place with the Employee Relations Partner, Senior Pensions Advisor, Scheme Manager and an external Operational Health colleague.
i. In regard to incorrect pensionable pay, Members noted that an extensive review regarding the reasons for the incorrect pensionable pay and salary information passed to XPS from the Service had been completed and that It appeared that there were no errors with the pensionable pay data for members contributing to the FPS 2015 scheme. However some salary information was inconsistent for members who had contributed to the FPS 1992 scheme before its tapered closure in April 2022. In some instances, the pay data sent to XPS included Continuing Personal Development (CPD) payments and in other instances it did not. A detailed spreadsheet was submitted by the Senior Business Finance Partner at Surrey County Council to XPS so it could be understood where CPD payments were or were not included in pensionable pay.
j. That the service had circulated information to members on the potential impacts of any industrial action.
2. The Vice-Chairman proposed that a risk related to incorrect pensionable pay was closed which was agreed by the Board.
3. The Chairman stated that the list of tasks and topics found on page 20 of the agenda was helpful. The Chairman further stated that he appreciated the information provided within the report and its new layout and found it to be very helpful.
Actions/ further information to be provided:
AX/XX – The Board to receive the new Pension Policy following approval at a future meeting for noting.
The Board noted the report.