The item was introduced by Martin Griffiths, who explained there had been updated advice received from central government. However there had been no updates on investments in Russia, and an ongoing issue on whether or not the LGPS would be allowed to make prepayments of contributions instead of making regular monthly payments. The LGPS had received legal advice that this would be an acceptable course of action. Mandatory scheme payment deadlines had been extended.
New statutory guidance had been published in relation to severance payments, although it would be down to individual employers to decide what they wanted to do and inform the Fund what action they would take.
Martin Griffiths said there had been issues
relating to the pensions dashboard, with many public sector schemes
indicating they would be unlikely to meet the deadline to roll it
out by 2023. It was likely to be delayed until 2024
Members were told ‘stronger nudge’
guidance had been issued, in respect of when pensioners may wish to
receive their benefits.
Regarding the governance update, Martin Griffiths said it was not felt that any changes needed to be made to the voting and stewardship policies. An amendment had been made to the communication policy and this was set out in the report appendices. Martin Griffiths also informed members that the Fund had launched a new website and reminded the Board about the launch of the self-service platform. Martin Griffiths said the Investment Strategy Statement had been reviewed by Hymans Robertson before going to the Investment Sub Committee. Members’ attention was drawn to the training schedule, particularly as the next session was planned for 18 July.
Alan Kidner asked for clarification on the Ukraine conflict and how this impacted on investments into Russian assets. Victoria Moffett said Russian markets were currently closed, meaning it was not possible to withdraw money from the Russian funds but also there was no value to those assets. She added there was only a very small proportion of the Fund’s assets had been invested into Russia. However Fund managers were choosing not to vote on what to do with Russian assets.
Jeff Carruthers noted the threshold for scheme payments had been frozen at £40,000 until 2026, but there was potential for this to be affected by inflation. He asked if this would have an impact on the Fund’s workload, and if there was staffing capacity to meet this. Vicky Jenks said the Fund was proactively looking at members who were getting close to the £40,000 threshold and send information out to them, as there was a requirement to issue pension savings statements to members who had exceeded the threshold. The number reaching the threshold had been increasing for some time.
Regarding the communications policy, Alan Kidner said he had noticed some typos. He also asked for the report to clarify what was meant by the term ‘deliverables’. Martin Griffiths said corrections would be made to the final policy document, and asked for members to contact him if there was anything specific they felt needed changing.
Members noted the contents of the report.