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Covid-19 update for Employers - 20/03/2020

LGPS Scheme Benefits

There has been a lot of disturbing news lately about the fall in stock markets and the potential impact on “defined contribution” pension arrangements.

The Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is a “defined benefit” pension scheme, which means that member benefits are not linked to stock market performance and what scheme members might receive in the future is set out in law.

Although short term investment values go up and down the LGPS and within that the Staffordshire Pension Fund is a long-term investor. We have measures in place to ensure the Fund’s assets are well looked after, should there be a need to address any longer-term impacts.

Therefore, please assure your scheme Members that both their contributions and their pension, whether in payment or built up to date, will be unaffected.

Service Impact

We would also like to reassure you that we are continuing to operate a normal service. However, during this extraordinary situation call wait times to the Pensions Team may increase and face-to-face member and Employer services will cease.

As the situation escalates, rest assured that Staffordshire Pension Fund are doing everything possible to reduce the impact that the virus is having on our Members, our Employers, our Employees and their families. We are taking all appropriate measures which include significantly increasing home working. We will update our website as the situation develops.

What you can do to help us?

•           Use our website where possible.

•           If you need to contact us please email:

pensions.employers@staffordshire.gov.uk

•           Please only call us if your query is urgent.

•           Encourage your members to use our online “My Pension Portal” to check details of your pension benefits

https://www.staffspf.org.uk/Calculator/Self-Service-Calculator.aspx  

We are closely following the advice of Public Health England and the World Health Organisation and introducing a variety of measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of our Members and Employees.

McCloud case update - March 2020

When the government reformed public service pension schemes in 2014 and 2015 they introduced protections for older scheme members. The Court of Appeal ruled that younger members of the judges and firefighters pension schemes were discriminated against because the protections did not apply to them. The government has confirmed that there will be changes to all public sector schemes to remove this age discrimination.

What does this mean for the LPGS?

The government and the scheme advisory board (SAB) are having high level discussions about what this means for the LGPS. The SAB is confident that the eventual outcome will provide younger members in scope with protection that is equal to the protection provided to older members.

The protection compares the benefits payable under the current rules with the benefits that would have been paid if the scheme had not changed in 2014 and pays the higher. This protection will apply automatically. LGPS members who meet the qualifying criteria do not need to take any action.

What will this mean for members?

It is important that members are made aware that many of them will not see an increase to their pension benefits. For others any increase is likely to be small because of low salary growth since the new schemes were introduced.

What will happen next?

The SAB will continue to work with the government to ensure that the necessary changes to the LGPS are fully implemented and that all members automatically receive the protection they are due.

Changes to the scheme will be backdated to April 2014 and will apply to qualifying members who left the LGPS after that date. Implementing and communicating the changes will be extremely challenging. The SAB have set up an implementation group to assist LGPS administering authorities and employers with this challenge.