Liz Firmstone reported that the I-Connect project to automate the submission of member data and contributions by employers was on track, with 58% of employers due to have gone live by the end of Phase 3, representing 12,800 (85%) of active scheme members.
The Committee was informed that KPIs (key performance indicators) ensured a high quality of service, made sure that resources were directed where needed and helped to mitigate any issues. Latest KPI information was being used to target training in areas where processes and staffing have changed. I-Connect will bring in workload in consistent ways so workload peaks and troughs will be avoided. The breaches noted in the report were primarily due to employers submitting either member data or contributions late and the amber breaches were primarily where an employer did this very late once or several times; the format of how this is presented may change to allow for comparisons pre and post-I-Connect.
Following a query from the Chair on breeches, Liz Firmstone stated that the breaches policy had triggers on how late a submission has to be for it to go from green to amber and how many times an employer has to be late in a timeframe for it to be escalated. All late submissions were followed up and there was engagement with relevant employers to resolve any issues.
Following a question from Councillor Gifford, Liz Firmstone stated that Warwickshire County Council breached when it changed HR systems with a legacy issue of transferring data from the new HR system to the pensions system had been followed up and had since been resolved. She confirmed that the I-Connect system would take the relevant information from the payroll, which would help to avoid future delays in submission by employers.
Liz Firmstone reminded the Committee that the purpose of the McCloud project is to remedy issues relating to age discrimination arising from the McCloud-Sergeant cases when pensions reforms were introduced. Aon have been brought in to manage the project and act as technical specialists. The project will last 2½ years and will seek to help any pension fund members affected. She concluded that the government had disapplied the regulations on exit payments after stating that there would be unintended consequences because of applying regulations. Their initial plans would have had a significant impact on many people leaving local government employment, and not just those cited in the original consultation who were high earners. The government is expected to come back with an alternative exit cap proposal later in 2021.
Staff and Pensions Committee note this report.