London Fire Brigade

Agenda and minutes

LFEPA Local Pension Board
Friday, 14 July 2017 10.30 am

Venue: Room 2-08, Second floor, 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL

Contact: Anna Flately, Tel: 0208 555 1200 ext. 30084 email:  anna.flatley@london-fire.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Leonie Cooper AM, for whom Unmesh Desai AM substituted, and from Councillor Tony Arbour for the Employer’s Side, and from Paul Embery (FBU) for whom Joe MacVeigh substituted, respectively for the Employees’ Side. 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 3 February 2016.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 3 February 2017 were agreed as a correct record.

3.

Declarations of Interest

The Board are asked to declare any interests and/or conflicts of interest.

Minutes:

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

4.

Firefighters' Local Pension Board - Update Report pdf icon PDF 367 KB

Report by Head of Finance - provides members of the Local Pension Board (LPB) with an overview and update on the position relating to a number of current issues affecting firefighter pensions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Adrian Bloomfield introduced the report, drawing the Board’s attention to: –

 

  • The outcome of the Employment Tribunal, as set out in paragraphs 6-9 of the report,  i.e. that the transitional (protection) arrangements with regard to the 2015 FPS were held to be objectively justified.  As a result of the subsequent appeal the Employments Appeal Tribunal decided there were enough grounds for it to go to a full hearing.  The Authority has heard since this report was published that the appeal will take place in December 2017.

 

  • That the additional unfunded costs following the Home Office guidance in relation to the employee contributions holiday, as set out in paragraphs 10-13 of the report, has now been paid to all those eligible.

 

  • The introduction of a tapered Annual Allowance for staff earning over £150,000 as set out in paragraphs 21-26.

 

In reply to questions from Members, advisers confirmed that Annual Allowance of £40,000, was not index linked.  Although it was noted that over time this figure would be diminished by inflation, experience  showed that these figures were regularly updated.

 

It was then agreed: That the report be noted. 

 

 

5.

Firefighters' Pension Scheme - Member Engagement and Communications pdf icon PDF 287 KB

Report by Head of Finance -  intended as a discussion document on engagement with members of the firefighters’ pension schemes.

Minutes:

Adrian Bloomfield introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to the following: -

 

  • That a session on pensions is to be included in the trainee firefighter programme.

 

  • Currently trainee firefighters are auto-enrolled into the pension scheme and an Auto-Enrolment exercise is being carried out in October 2017 to enrol staff that were not in a pension scheme prior to April 2013 and are still not. 

 

  • Officers have contacted the Equality Support Group for views on how the Authority could better promote the pension scheme to all staff, but particularly women and BME employees.

 

Members asked officers whether the national pension awareness day, as reported in paragraph 9 of the report, could be widened to cover FRS staff. This was supported by the Board. In addition the Board stressed that promotion of pensions at an early stage in a person’s career was to be encouraged. The Interim Head of Human Resources reiterated that some time had been secured for this on the trainee firefighters Welcome Day.

 

Following discussion it was welcomed that auto-enrolment was actioned every three years to ensure non enrolment was not due to inertia and Members encouraged officers to explore providing champions, possibly volunteers, to promote the scheme.

 

 

It was then agreed: That the report be noted and its contents be agreed.

 

 

 

6.

Provision of Information pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Report by Head of Human Resource Management -  provides information to the Local Pension Board (LPB) on the firefighters’ pension schemes.

 

Appendices 2 and 3 are confidential and will follow separately from the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Head of Human Resources introduced the report and informed Members that: -

 

  • The percentage of employees who were not in any scheme had now stabilised at around 10%.  The impact on the changes in tapering have yet to be seen.

 

  • In relation to the case as set out on page 104 of the Agenda the mother had been successfully located and the matter had been resolved and the pension was now being paid.

 

  • The In relation to the case 2015- active as set out at the top of page 104 of the report a final decision is expected within the next few weeks although the draft opinion does not uphold the complaint.  Further to a question from a Member,  it was confirmed that the other 6 members who had made similar complaints had been informed in writing that their cases were being held in abeyance, awaiting the decision of this case.  Once the decision was made they would be informed and could decide whether or not to proceed with their individual cases.  It was noted that none objected to this course of action.

 

Joe MacVeigh raised concerns that the IDRP had ignored evidence from independent experts in relation to the case 1992 – active as set out on page 104 of the Agenda, and indicated it would be appealed.  It was noted as a concern for the FBU that every IDRP appeal case has been lost.

 

The Board noted that officers would discuss the individual case with the FBU outside the meeting and that separately officers would report to the Board on whether the scheme’s rules and procedures in relation to independent expert’s evidence as applied by the Authority are in accordance with the principles of good governance.

 

It was then agreed:

 

·         That the report be noted; and

 

·         That officers review whether the IDRP rules and procedures in relation to independent experts’ evidence,  as applied by the Authority are in accordance with good governance and report back to the Board on the outcome.

7.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

7a   Joe MacVeigh raised concerns over a recent  case where the Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner (IQMP) had not had sight of medical reports.  He commented that there had been various recent appeal cases where the Board had not seen submissions which the FBU had provided to the Authority on the basis that they contained new evidence. The Authority had been advised by the Brigade’s medical advisor on this particular case that it was not new evidence and consequently this was not presented to the IQMP. Joe MacVeigh stated that it is not up to the Brigade’s medical advisor to make that decision – rather it should be the IQMP’s decision. Joe MacVeigh further stated that there is also no right of appeal for the medical advisor’s decision which he considered unjust. Joe MacVeigh informed the Board that the FBU was seeking legal advice which it expected to get this week.

 

A discussion followed on the matter, including noting that in a previous decision by the Pension Ombudsman, although the case was upheld, the Authority had been criticised for simply accepting the finding of the IQMP without applying its own judgement. The ambiguity whereby the rules state that the IQMP decision must be taken as binding but the Ombudsman has expressed the view that the Authority should review each individual case was noted.

 

Following further discussion, it was noted -

 

·         That that the individual case would be discussed between officers and the FBU representative outside of the meeting; and

 

·          A  report would be brought back to the next meeting of the Board on the process for determining whether a submission constitutes new evidence justifying consideration by the IQMP.

 

7b  In response to questions the LPFA representative reported that the initial reaction following the determination of the recently publicised same sex marriage case (Walker) regarding pension rights for the remaining partner following a death, was that it would not have any direct impact on any of the three fire service pensions.  Nevertheless it would be investigated further and any implications reported back.

8.

Date of Next Meeting

The Board are asked to note that the next meeting will be held on a date to be confirmed by the Clerk following consultation with Members.

Minutes:

It was agreed that the date of the next meeting would be held on a date to be confirmed by the Clerk following consultation with Members.