Neil Buxton (Technical Specialist Pensions Fund Policy and Governance) informed the committee that all pension schemes were required to have a breaches policy in place, for example, if an employer did not pay contributions deducted from members of the pension scheme. The policy itself gave clarity in relation to breaches and what action is required to be taken. It was noted that some consequential changes to the Administration Strategy were highlighted in the appendix.
Neil Buxton concluded that the administration Strategy had also been updated to reflect the new I-connect data portal that deals with the automatic transfer of data from scheme employers to the pension fund.
In response to Councillor Simpson-Vince, Vicky Jenks (Pensions Administration Lead) confirmed that all breaches were recorded by the pensions team and most breaches that were received were late information arrivals. Employers can report themselves or the pension board can report in the case of such breaches.It was added that breaches had decreased since the implementation of the new I-Connect system.
Councillor Gifford praised the work of the pension board in relation to historical breaches and queried if small-scale employers found compliance more challenging i.e. new academies. Vicky Jenks clarified that academies tend to join multiple academy trusts with other academies so they jointly send all their information to the pension team together; this was beneficial as it helped speed things up. Chris Norton added that the experience had not changed with breaches as the Chair of the local pension board gets involved with all of them.
In response to Councillor Sarah Millar’s query regarding the interface between the whistleblowing policy and wider governance related policies , Andrew Felton stated that there is inevitably some overlap at times, but that consideration would always be given as to the most appropriate policy to follow depending on the circumstances. .
Following a question from Councillor Kettle, Vicky Jenks clarified that the role of the Staff & Pensions Committee is to be assured that breaches are reported as necessary in line with our arrangements and acted on properly; all reported and unreported breaches are shared with the Committee and Local Pension Board and the expectation is that the Pensions Board would wish to share this information with the committee.
That the Staff and Pensions Committee note and comment on the report.