Issue - decisions

Pension Administration Update

25/04/2024 - Pension Administration Update

Lisa Eglesfield said 118 people who were believed to be in scope for the Matthews project had been identified and written to in December. Of those, 43 had replied asking for more information, six had been returned as no longer at the address, and the remainder had received no response. The figures for the 43 respondees were now being calculated and it was hoped these could be distributed by late March with the view to make funding available to make payments from the start of the new tax year. Further reminders would be sent to the 69 people who had not yet responded. Lisa Eglesfield said a signed-for letter would be sent; if these were signed for and no response was received then this would be taken as an indication the recipient was not interested and there would be no further communications sent to that person. Attempts would be made to trace the six people no longer at the address held on the database through the Department of Work and Pensions’ tracing service. Lisa Eglesfield said there were regular check-in meetings to ensure appropriate progress was being made as there were strict deadlines. Responding to a question from the Chair, Lisa Eglesfield said around 15 of the people yet to respond were serving firefighters. Sally Waldron said WFRS could help by sending out reminders through station managers to encourage more responses. Pay data existed as far back as 2006; anything prior to this was calculated using averages.


Regarding the McCloud age discrimination remedy, Lisa Eglesfield said the Warwickshire Pension Fund had supplied the West Yorkshire Pension Fund with the data needed for pension calculations for the remedy period, but further work needed to be done regarding contributions. The calculations were then being worked out through a calculator tool released through the government’s actuarial department, which took into account different contribution rates and adjustments for tax and interest. Members within scope, and retirement cases, had been identified and payroll were working to get all the information needed for the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to calculate the annual benefit statements.


Lisa Eglesfield said the time the report was written, there had been a breach in relation to the non disclosure relating to the six Matthews cases, where the disclosure letter was returned gone away. She said this did not qualify as a material breach so would not be reported to the Pensions Regulator.


Helen Scargill (West Yorkshire Pension Fund) introduced the December monthly report to members. There had been one case of a death in retirement where there had been a delay in the length of time taken to get the managed certificate from the beneficiary, meaning there had been a KPI that had not met its timeframe. The Chair asked if some of the KPIs could be refined and gave this as an example. He said it was unclear if the delay had been caused by the individual not supplying the information, or if there had been a fault caused by the Pension Fund. Helen Scargill said issues were generally caused by a process being recorded within the system as being pending but was then taken out of pending and not properly recorded.


Helen Scargill said the annual scheme returns were in the process of being completed and returned, and the first remediable service statements for businesses were released on 22 December. A new calculation process had been used to create all of the statements. However, following instructions from the LGA and FBU there had been a pause on handling immediate choice cases. This would not be recommenced until notice was given to proceed, and concerns had been raised that it may not be possible to go on and complete the work within the timeframes. Helen Scargill said the LGA had received a guidance note from the Treasury about this, but it was unclear when work could begin again. It had been anticipated this would take up to 18 months to complete. Helen Scargill added there was an additional GAD interest calculator for tax above commercial rates that was due to be introduced, which was creating further delays as it was unclear what the commercial rates would be and when they would change. It was hoped this could be clarified by the end of February, although the initial start date was meant to be 1 October 2023. Helen Scargill said the West Yorkshire Pension Fund had been tasked with 150 immediate choice cases, although not all of these were Warwickshire cases. Lisa Eglesfield said the number of active and deferred Warwickshire cases was 225, but did not know how many of these related to immediate choice.


Since the last update there had been no data breaches reported. Training courses were available for members and these were outlined in the report. The Chair asked if this could be publicised to members, and for an update in a future report on how this had been done.


The Chair asked if the results of the Pensions Regulator survey could be mentioned at a future meeting once the outcomes were known, and any areas Warwickshire could improve on had been highlighted.


Helen Scargill said anyone receiving benefits through the compensation scheme due to having to retire through injury would have their benefits calculated as though they were a whole time member of the 92 scheme and would not be in scope for Matthews. The LGA had provided further details on how pension rates would be calculated for anyone who started as a firefighter after 6 April 2006 before retiring due to an injury. Many administrators had been calculating the injury pension payment rates using the part time rates. Helen Scargill said the previous calculations were therefore being reviewed and recalculated, as there may be some substantial underpayments made. There had been 88 cases that had been identified. The West Yorkshire Pension Fund were looking at cases affected by the 2015 final salary scheme – although none of these related to Warwickshire – and deferred membership cases.


Members were told the latest valuation would be taking place later in the year. It was likely the request for data would come in September, with an expectation to complete the valuation by late November or early December. Helen Scargill said this would be difficult to achieve, although updates would be provided to the Board when available.


Responding to a point raised by the Chair, Helen Scargill said the Home Office were potentially changing tax and employee contribution bandings and this was being looked at by a working group.


Members noted the contents of the report and thanked Helen Scargill for providing the update.