London Fire Brigade

Agenda and minutes

LFEPA Local Pension Board
Friday, 27 May 2016 10.30 am

Venue: G-04 - Ground Floor, 169 Union Street, London SE1 0LL. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies received from Councillor Tom Copley from the Employer’s Side, and from Paul Embery (FBU) for whom Joe MacVeigh substituted for the Employees’ Side.  Apologies for lateness were received from Cllr Ali.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 24 November 2015.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

  • Agreed the minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 24 November 2015.

 

Matters arising

 

  • Noted (with reference to minute item 4) that the FBU were still able to nominate two further substitute members.

 

  • Noted (with reference to minute item 6) that it had not been possible to arrange in-house training for substitute members; and that future training sessions being arranged by other FRAs, such as Essex, will be utilised for training the Board’s substitute members.

 

·         Noted (with reference to minute item 7) that all bullet points had been actioned, though officers were still working on issues relating to the future dissemination of information to staff. Officers were hopeful to have an update regarding the on-line pensions projector by the end of July, which will supplement the current information available to staff on Hotwire. 

 

·         Noted Employee Side members’ concerns over paper pension statements lacking full prospectus information.  See item 7 below.

 

3.

Declarations/Conflicts of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations or conflicts of interest declared by Board Members.

 

4.

LFEPA Local Pension Board - Update Report pdf icon PDF 203 KB

Report by Head of Finance providing an overview and update on the position relating to a number of current issues affecting firefighter pensions.

Minutes:

Adrian Bloomfield introduced the report.  In answer to questions from Members, he confirmed that a change in the 1992 FPS Regulations was required in order for firefighters who joined aged 18-20 and served for over 30 years (before reaching minimum retirement age) to receive a ‘contributions holiday’.  Confirmation was awaited as to when the amendment would come into force.  Members suggested that officers write to the Government to clarify the timescale and to enquire whether firefighters will have the option of choosing between a holiday period or a refund.

 

In answer to further questions from Members, officers confirmed a 2019 deadline for Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) reconciliation. The Brigade was progressing data-checking issues with the LPFA and officers would report back in due course on the actions required.

 

In reference to paragraph 6c of the report and in answer to questions from Members, Mr Lewins (LPFA) confirmed that the LPFA had written to members in February regarding the reduction in the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) and applying for protection. The LPFA would be following up with further correspondence in September 2016 following the on-line system going live in July.

 

The Board discussed the transfer of ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue, with the Firefighters pensions team now working within the Home Office, and asked officers to keep Board Members informed of any changes that might occur as a result of the transfer. 

The Board also discussed the Brigade’s current discussions with the HMRC regarding tax liabilities following the loss of Protected Pension Age.  The Brigade had one former firefighter who was believed to be affected by the loss of PPA and the Brigade were encouraging that pensioner to contact officers to discuss the matter and the possibility of referring the case to the Pensions Ombudsman, as outlined in paragraph 5b of the report.

In discussing paragraph 9a of the report, the Board agreed that officers report to the next meeting with details of the findings of the Government’s consultation regarding tax relief on pension savings.

The Board were happy with what they considered to be a very useful and informative report and asked officers to continue to provide such a detailed update to each meeting of the Board.

 

Agreed –

 

·         That the report be noted and officers continue to provide a detailed update report to each meeting of the Board;

 

·         That officers report to the next meeting of the Board with details of the findings of the Government’s consultation regarding tax relief on pension savings.

 

5.

Automatic Enrolment pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Report by Head of Finance – providing an update on pension auto enrolment and the re-enrolment exercise that the Authority is required to do in June 2016.

 

Minutes:

Adrian Bloomfield introduced the report, explained the enrolment and re-enrolment process as set out in the report, and confirmed that the Authority’s medium term forecast currently included a total forecast pressure of £1.7m over 2017/18 and 2018/19 as a result of the October 2017/18 auto enrolment.  That figure would be reviewed following the outcome of the June 2016 re-enrolment process.

·         Agreed – that the report be noted.

 

6.

Scheme Advisory Board Update pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Report by Head of Human Resource Management – providing an update on the Scheme Advisory Board.

Minutes:

Dominic Johnson introduced the report and confirmed that Malcolm Eastwood, a retired Chief Fire Officer from Hampshire, had now been appointed Chair of the SAB. 

 

The Board discussed raising Prospect-related issues with the SAB when required, or requesting that Prospect be invited to SAB meetings when necessary.  Mr Mills stated that, if it transpires that a significant number of Prospect-related issues are raised at SAB meetings, the Board may wish to make representations regarding a review of the membership of the SAB.

 

The Board discussed how to best take forward its relationship with the SAB.

 

Agreed –

 

·         That the Chair of the SAB, Malcom Eastwood, be invited to the next meeting of the Board;

 

·         That the minutes of all SAB meetings and communications be circulated to Members of the Board;

 

·         That the minutes of all meetings of the Board (along with commentary where necessary) be sent formally to Clair Alcock at the LGA (and informally to SAB Member, Cllr Maurice Heaster) so that LFB issues may be raised at SAB meetings when required;

 

·         That officers try to ensure that meetings of the Board precede meetings of the SAB in order that issues may be raised in a timely manner; and

 

·         That the SAB Update report (appending SAB minutes) be a standing item on the agenda for meetings of the Board.

 

 

7.

Annual Benefits Statements pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Report by Head of Human Resource Management – updating the Board on annual benefits statements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Neil Lewins (LPFA) confirmed that the 2015 Scheme regulations and the latest Pension Regulator instructions required that statements issued from 2016 onwards should be despatched by 31st August.  The LGA established a technical group to consider what support could be put in place to assist FRAs in handling the tighter timescale, which the LPFA fully contributed to. The main recommendation of the group was to consolidate the statements into a single exercise and not to tailor different documents for members of different schemes or different protection levels.  Software providers had been involved to ensure that the design can be provided for and the updated IT system release was due in June 2016. Statements will include full prospectus information.

 

Staff would be receiving a communication prior to the statements being issued (in line with what was set out in the report and its appendices). 

 

Agreed –

 

·         That the report be noted;

 

·         That it would be helpful for officers to liaise with Employees’ side representatives regarding any issues with the statement; and

 

·         That it would be helpful for staff to be advised of an officer contact they can talk to about use of the IT system itself when it goes live, bearing in mind officers will not be able to advise staff about what decisions to take in regard to their pensions.

 

8.

Provision of Information pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Report by Head of Human Resource Management providing information to the Board on the firefighters’ pension schemes.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Dominic Johnson confirmed that the report contained similar information to that submitted to the previous Board meeting, but with additional data showing comparative figures/trends and brief anonymised explanations of some of the cases/use of discretions, as requested by the Board.

 

The Board discussed the overall finances of the national schemes going forward and agreed that the Board should ask the Chair of the SAB for any forecast information that was available (with officers also giving the Chair of the SAB notice of this question and others which the Board may wish to ask him at the next Board meeting).

 

Employees’ Side Members raised concerns over the process for IDRP cases, whether officers are able to constitute the decision-making body at Stage 2 appeals and, if not, whether some previous cases would need revisiting.  Dominic Johnson said that officers were aware of the concerns but were satisfied that the IDRP decision-making bodies were properly constituted. The Board agreed that officers report to the next meeting on the process for IDRP cases.

 

Agreed -

 

·         That the report be noted; and

 

·         That officers report to the next meeting of the Board on the process for IDRP cases.

 

9.

Ill Health Retirement and Death In Service - Financial and Pension Issues pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Report by Head of Human Resource Management – providing a briefing, as requested by the Board, to explain the financial/pension issues around death in service and ill-health retirement.

 

Minutes:

Dominic Johnson introduced the report and reiterated the process being followed where an employee is terminally ill and where ill health retirement is more financially advantageous to that employee.  The Authority had been working with the occupational health provider to obtain the necessary information and for the commutation forms to be signed at very short notice when necessary. This had sometimes been achieved in 2 or 3 days.  The Employee’s Side Members thanked officers for their work on that matter.

 

The Board discussed Employees’ Side Members concerns regarding the possible lack of medical standards and definitions being used in pension appeals and the processes around being found permanently unfit.  Officers confirmed that the Authority was bound by decisions of the IQMP, who had access to relevant medical information, and that officers would report back to the Board if there were any problematic issues regarding the standards and definitions being used. 

 

Agreed – That the report be noted.

 

10.

Date of Next Meeting

Minutes:

Agreed that the Clerk consults Board Members on a suitable date for the next meeting of the Board in late August/early September 2016 and that the Chairman of the SAB be invited to attend.

 

11.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

The Board noted that it would soon need to consider the implications of the anticipated abolition of the LFEPA at the end of March 2017, including the future Employer side membership of the Board.