Select the headings on this page to open or collapse each item. Updates published up to May 2020 are also available in the PDF archive of Advisory Board updates.

Select the headings on this page to open or collapse each item. Updates published up to May 2020 are also available in the PDF archive of Advisory Board updates.

Summary note of (virtual) meeting held on 8 February 2021

Full details of the meeting and agenda papers can be found on board meetings page.

The minutes of the meeting on the 2nd November were approved.

The main points arising from the meeting are shown below :-

McCloud – The Board was advised that on February 4th HM Treasury published a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) outlining the government’s response to the consultation on the McCloud remedy for the unfunded public service schemes. Given the proposed options of offering affected scheme members either immediate or deferred choice the government has decided that deferred choice will apply. The LGPS will require its own remedy process.  MHCLG advised that a Written Ministerial Statement is expected in mid-March which will include details on timing of the necessary amending regulations.

The government’s WMS also covered the impact of the McCloud remedy on HM Treasury’s cost cap arrangement. Board members were advised that separate discussions on the Board’s own cost management arrangement for the LGPS will remain paused until HM Treasury Directions, detailing how remedy costs are to be calculated and taken into account, have been published. In the meantime, the Board agreed that discussions with the Government Actuary’s Department to assess the extent of McCloud costs should commence when HM Treasury has shared its draft Directions. These provisional costings will help the Board to consider how McCloud remedy costs should be taken into account in their own cost management arrangement.

The Board also agreed the need for further communications aimed at managing scheme member expectations around potential benefit increases resulting from McCloud.

95K Cap – The Board was advised that the legal uncertainty caused by the inconsistency between HM Treasury’s exit cap regulations and the scheme’s 2013 Regulations will continue for the foreseeable future until the current judicial review cases, and any subsequent appeals, have been determined. The judicial review hearing is scheduled for the 24th, 25th and possibly 26th March when 16 separate grounds of appeal will be heard. The key question for the Board will be how HM Treasury’s exit payment regulations impact on scheme members’ entitlement to unreduced pensions, and the calculation of such benefits under current LGPS regulations.

Discussions with the Pensions Ombudsman’s legal team continue to assess the scope for fast-tracking complaints from scheme members relating to the cap. Although the Ombudsman is likely to be prevented from accepting any complaint based on decisions made under the regulations while the judicial review cases are ongoing there may be other instances when cases could be accepted, for example, where the complaint involves maladministration.

The Board agreed that more work should be undertaken to assess the scope for converting cash equivalents under Regulation 8 of the exit payment regulations into pension benefits. At present, the 2013 regulations allow such cash payments to be made into the scheme but there remains uncertainty about how this can then be converted into scheme members’ pension benefits.

SAB 2021/22 Workplan and Budget

The Board considered and agreed a draft 2021/22 workplan and budget which will now be discussed with MHCLG before being formally considered when the Board next meets on the 10th May. In summary the workplan proposed no new items but rather a continued focus on the existing workplan projects, scheme developments and continuing to support stakeholders on COVID issues.

Responsible Investment – The Board was advised that work on preparing the responsible investment A to Z website continues. The first milestone, a working version of the website, has been reached and work will now commence on populating the underlying database with relevant items. The aim remains for the website to go live towards the end of March.

The Board also agreed membership of the new Responsible Investment Advisory Group (RIAG) as recommended by the investment, governance and engagement committee. The first meeting of the RIAG is scheduled for early March.

Details of both the website and RIAG can be found at https://lgpsboard.org/images/PDF/BoardFeb2021/Item_6_Paper_D-Responsible_Investment.pdf

Work is also underway to review the recent consultation from DWP on reporting against TCFD recommendations by trust based occupational pension schemes to identify any issues that might have a specific and particular relevance to the LGPS. The intention is for the board to submit a response to MHCLG to assist in the preparation of their consultation on how broadly similar provisions should be introduced for the LGPS.

The Board was also advised that a follow up event to the responsible investment workshop held in January 2020, organised in conjunction with DG Publishing, is now planned for the 28th and 29th April. This will be a virtual event with a two-hour session on the afternoon of each date. Further details will be circulated when available.

Good Governance project - The Board considered and agreed an action plan based on the final report prepared by the project team at Hymans Robertson. The Board’s Chair will now write to the Local Government Minister, Luke Hall, inviting him to consider the Board’s action plan. (Copies of the final report and action plan can be found on the Board’s website at www.lgpsboard.org).

The Board also agreed that the Chair should write to the project team at Hymans Robertson thanking them for all their work and support during the project.

AOB – The Chair expressed thanks to the Board’s Secretariat for all their help and support in particularly difficult times during the COVID emergency, and highlighted the help and support given to scheme stakeholders on 95k cap and McCloud.   

Date of next meeting – 10th May 2021

Summary note of (virtual) meeting held on 2 November 2020

Full details of the meeting and agenda papers can be found on board meetings page.

In the absence of the Chair the meeting was opened by Vice-Chair, Jon Richards.  The minutes of the meeting on the 28th August were approved.

Main points arising from the meeting include :-

95K Cap – Work is underway in preparing a response to MHCLG’s policy consultation by the 9th November to be followed by a technical response to the draft regulations for submission by the 18th December. Regarding the legal issues caused by the time difference between HM Treasury’s and MHCLG’s regulations being introduced the Board was informed that a letter from the Local Government Minister to administering authorities is expected to recommend that Regulation 30(7) of the 2013 regulations that provides for the payment of unreduced pensions to those members aged 55 and over whose employment is terminated on redundancy is overridden by HM Treasury’s exit payment regulations and that instead administering authorities should pay either deferred or fully reduced pensions plus scheme employers should pay a cash alternative under Regulation 8 of the exit payment regulations.

The Board commissioned advice from James Goudie QC who concluded that there was an obligation on administering authorities to pay full unreduced pensions and that the risk of successful challenge was high if they did not. Under the government’s recommendation of a cash alternative instead of an unreduced pension the risk of successful challenge was judged to be moderate.

The Board was advised that the government’s recommendation is based on the doctrine of implied repeal which, if applicable, would mean that the payment of unreduced pensions under Regulation 30(7) would be unlawful as the regulation would fall for scheme members who are capped.

If on the other hand reduced benefits are paid under Regulation 30(5) then the risk of challenge from scheme members will be high. From an employer’s perspective, any successful challenge could mean the employer having to fund the full pension even if a cash alternative had been paid.

On that basis, an administering authorities’ route of least risk would appear to be an offer of either deferred or reduced benefits and for employers to defer any payment of a cash alternative. This route would avoid the need for overpaid benefits having to be recouped from scheme members or additional costs on scheme employers resulting from any challenge. It was recognised however that the final decision lies with administering authorities and scheme employers.

The Board agreed that the Secretariat should open discussions with the Pensions Ombudsman to explore the scope for fast tracking challenges made by scheme members.

The current issues were summarised as :-

  • SAB commentary will only apply to capped scheme members
  • Scheme members are unsure what the position is;
  • Risk of losing a challenge on implied repeal cases will fall to funds and may result in reduced pensions with the need to reclaim overpayments
  • Representations to the PO for fast tracking LGPS cases will be made
  • Clear information and effective communication will be essential
  • Legal situation complicated by several applications for judicial review
  • The waiver process remains uncertain without Directions of Guidance from HMT.

 

McCloud – The Board was reminded of the decision it took when it last met in August to unpause its own cost cap arrangement until HM Directions including proposals on how McCloud costs are going to be taken into account are published in the New Year. Members were also advised that the Government Actuary’s Department is undertaking a review of the cost cap arrangement but that it is unlikely to have any impact on the outstanding 2016 cost cap process or the forthcoming 2020 process.

Good Governance Project -  A paper was presented to the Board setting out the current position of the project including a set of near complete draft papers on the key areas of standard KPIs; senior officer role and new governance compliance standards. Members were advised that discussions between the project team and members of the implementation will now resume with the intention of finalising draft papers in time for the next round of committee and board meetings in January and February.

AOB – The Board was advised that in future major SAB projects will be undertaken in-house and that as agreed,  a new member of the Secretariat will be joining the team in January.

Date of next meeting – 8th February 2021

Summary note of (virtual) meeting held on 25 August 2020

Full details of the meeting and agenda papers can be found on board meetings page.

The Chair opened the meeting by welcoming Councillor Andrew Thornton, Chair of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund, as the Board’s Metropolitan Authorities’ representative.

Main points arising from the meeting include :-

McCloud – Consultations have been issued by MHCLG and HM Treasury on the McCloud remedy for the LGPS and unfunded schemes respectively. SAB will be submitting a technical response to the consultation which will include representations to allow the LGPS’ regulations to be on the statute book ahead of those of the unfunded schemes where the coming into force date is expected to be Spring 2022. Unlike the unfunded schemes, LGPS remedy regulations will not have to wait for changes in primary legislation to be made so different timescales should be possible.  Getting LGPS McCloud regulations in place sooner rather than later will give administering authorities, software providers, etc, more opportunity to put the necessary processes in place before they come into effect in 2022. The Board also agreed that work should commence on central guidance on how the regulations are to be applied and,  in particular, how individual cases of poor or missing scheme member data should be handled.

Cost Cap – The Board was advised that unlike the HM Treasury arrangement, there is no compulsion on SAB to include McCloud costs in their arrangement. However, it was agreed that no decision should be taken until the HM Treasury Direction on how McCloud costs are to be taken into account has been published. In principle, the Board agreed that their cost cap arrangement should be unpaused in the same way as the HM Treasury arrangement but that no action should be taken until more is known about how McCloud costs are to be taken into account.

95K Cap – Regulations for capping public sector exit payments were published on the 21st July. The Board was advised that the Secretariat will produce a technical response to the MHCLG consultation to ensure that draft regulations accurately reflect the policy as set out in the consultation document. The consultation response will be circulated to all members of the CMBDA committee for comment. The Board agreed that the Chair of the committee should have delegated authority to agree the final version.

SAB work on covid-19 issues – The Board was advised that the overwhelming majority of administering authorities had responded to the follow up scheme resilience survey and request for mortality data. Publication of outcomes is expected within the next few weeks.

Good Governance Project – Catherine McFadyen (Hymans Robertson) outlined the work the project team has undertaken during the covid-19 emergency. Draft papers on how the recommendations set out in the Phase II report are to be implemented will be completed by the end of September for consideration by the Board when it meets on the 2nd November. If approved,  the Board will then go on to consider the process and timing of implementation.

MHCLG Update – The Board was informed that the government’s response to last year’s consultation on employer flexibilities, etc, should be published within a matter of days. (Postscript – The response was published on the 26th August. A link to the response can be found at www.lgpsboard.org)

Date of next meeting – 2nd November 2020.

Summary note of (virtual) meeting held on 5th May 2020

Full details of the meeting and agenda papers can be found on this website. The Chair opened the meeting by welcoming Rachel Brothwood (WMPF) to her first meeting as the Board’s practitioner representative. Members were also advised that steps are well under way to fill the vacant Labour employer seat from the Met District administering authorities.

Main points arising from the meeting include :-

McCloud – Discussions with MHCLG continue on remedy. A consultation is still expected in late June with separate proposals for the LGPS. Members were also advised that a judicial review has been launched by the FBU, and four other public sector trade unions against the government’s decision to pause the cost cap arrangement.

Covid-19 issues – Members were advised of the following work being undertaken by SAB to assist the scheme :-

  • UK wide FAQ’s including guidance on furloughed staff and emergency voluntary leavers
  • New covid-19 section of the SAB website at www.lgpsboard.org
  • Establishment of a Covid-19 Practitioners Group
  • Weekly meetings with MHCLG, SPPA (Scotland) and DfC (Northern Ireland)
  • Three surveys launched on scheme resilience; cash flow and governance
  • Employer webinars
  • Scheme member FAQs

 

DHSC Life Assurance arrangement – Members were advised that full details of the DGSC life assurance scheme were still awaited but that questions are already being asked about whether similar arrangements are being considered for local government employees not covered by the DHSC scheme. Members were advised that no formal discussions have taken place but that representations have been made to MHCLG about the possibility of extending the scheme to other frontline local government staff.

Impact of covid-19 on SAB projects and workload :-

  • Good Governance project – To allow local government officers to concentrate on priority matters during the emergency, the Board agreed that the Phase III Implementation Working Group should be stood down until further notice. In the meantime, the project team at Hymans Robertson will continue to work on draft outcomes for consideration by the working group and the Board in due course.
  • Responsible Investment Guidance – Work on preparing an A-Z guide to Responsible Investment) will continue over the summer. As agreed in February the guide will not at this stage include any reference to fiduciary duty. The aim is to have a final draft for wider consultation ready to be considered by the Board by mid-August.
  • Academies project – Members were advised that the various recommendations from the project’s working groups on administration are to be included in ongoing work on monthly data submission and Pension Administration Strategies when possible , Third tier employers project – The working group set up to take this work forward has not been able to meet but discussions with MHCLG on whether and how the proposals on exit payments, deferred employers, etc, consulted on in May last year are being progressed.

 

Supreme Court judgement – Members were advised that the judgement of the Supreme Court in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign case was handed down on the 29th April 2020 and were asked to approve a short statement that has earlier been agreed by the Chair and Vice-Chair. The Board agreed publication of the statement that is now on the SAB website at www.lgpsboard.org. The Board also agreed that the Secretariat should work in conjunction with the Board’s legal adviser to prepare a draft summary of the judgement for publication covering the following areas :-

  • Direct effect of the decision
  • Possible indirect impact of the decision, and
  • Other items of interest outside of the decision.

 

Date of next meeting – 10th August 2020 but members were advised that beforehand virtual meetings with the Chairs of both the Board and investment and cost management committees will meet on a regular basis to deal with any urgent business.

 

Updates published up to May 2020 are also available in the PDF archive of Advisory Board updates.