Agenda item

Governance and Policy Update


Vicky Jenks told members that the Board’s terms of reference and the conflict of interest policy had both been updated with some minor amendments and included in the report pack for information. The abatement policy had also been updated and this had been formally ratified by the Staff and Pensions Committee. This had been a requirement as a Pensions Ombudsman decision had outlined that a blanket abatement policy could no longer be applied. Additionally, cases of ill health retirement from 2015 onwards had needed to be reassessed to ensure they had been processed under the correct schemes, and the right options had been given to members who did not qualify for an ill health benefit. New legislation would take effect from 1 October 2023 in order to address age discrimination. Work was taking place with the HR advisory team to identify these individuals and check they were assessed correctly and given the right options on retirement. If they were not then a review would be needed.


Vicky Jenks advised members that since the report had been prepared the Autumn Statement had come out, which had announced a pensions increase of 10.1 per cent and a knock-on effect to annual allowances. A consultation had been released on 10 February 2023 regarding the alignment of application of pensions increases taking effect for the new tax year for the Local Government Pension Scheme, which would have a lesser impact on annual allowances for next year. However this did not relate to firefighter pension schemes. Vicky Jenks said this may be significant because firefighters were impacted by changes to annual allowances, along with possible arrears to be paid out through the pay award.


Helen Scargill said she had had verbal confirmation from Home Office that the care revaluation dates would not be moved from 1 April to 6 April for the fire scheme. No reason had been given for this beyond there being a feeling it was not felt necessary to do, although there was a belief it could be influenced by the outcome of the Matthews decision and the increased workload on pensions administrators for the late notice of the pay award scheme. Helen Scargill said the proportion of care payments would increase, but this and the pay award would have a negligible impact on annual allowance growth. Uncertainty over the date of the pay award agreement being agreed could impact on annual allowance payments. Helen Scargill said if the pay award was not implemented before 5 April then the 2022/23 annual allowance would not be recalculated. There would be higher care pension payments in 2023/24 as a result. However the CPI opening value and the AA calculation were likely to offset each other. Helen Scargill stated her belief there would be no significant shift in either direction. The Chair said it was important to have this situation explained to pension members.


Responding to a question from Paul Morley, Vicky Jenks said temporary promotions were not pensionable in the care scheme so would not have an impact on a member’s annual tax allowance. Paul Morley said some scheme members nearing retirement were considering future career options based on their potential annual allowance tax charges.


Members were told a consultation had been taking place regarding changes HMRC had been planning to implement in relation to corrections in benefit payments for age discrimination. It was intended that pension members should not expect to get any additional charges to payments they were due to receive. Vicky Jenks advised that some other changes in regulations relating to waiving liabilities and correction of benefits were also taking effect.


Members noted the updates in the report.

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