Proposed Government Changes to Retirement Benefits
A consultation on restricting exit payments in the public sector, has been launched and runs until 3 July 2019.
You will recall from a previous Fund communication that the Government planned to introduce a £95,000 (£95k) cap to exit payments for public sector bodies. The original Government proposals were issued in summer 2015, however on 10 April this year the Government announced a final consultation which closes on 3 July 2019.
Further information can be found in the linked document below.
Member Factsheet - Exit Payment Cap (329KB)
Partner’s Pensions – legal ruling
A recent High Court judgement and regulation change has removed the requirement for members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) to register details of their cohabiting partner to receive a dependant's pension in the event of their death.
This means Staffordshire Pension Fund can pay a dependant's pension to the eligible cohabiting partner of a former member of the LGPS, who died before 1 April 2014, even if they did not register details of their partner with us.
To qualify for a cohabiting Partner’s Pension
Did you have a cohabiting partner who:
- Left the LGPS between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2014, and
- Died before 1 April 2014
If so you will be entitled to draw a pension from us, as long as you meet the conditions for who is classed as cohabiting partner. Briefly this means...
- You must have lived together as if married for at least two years, and
- Your partner must have been someone you were free to marry, and
- You must be able to prove you were financially dependent or interdependent on each other.
If you have any questions about your eligibility to receive a cohabiting partner’s survivor's pension if your partner died before 1 April 2014, you can ring our helpline on 01785 278222
Ban on pensions cold calling
A long-awaited ban on pensions cold calling came into force on Wednesday 9 January 2019. The ban is now a law under the Electronic Communications (Amendments) (No.2) Regulations 2018. Companies breaking the rules can be fined up to £500,000.
The ban was first announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in November 2016. It was originally expected to come into force before the end of 2017, before being pushed back.
How does the ban work?
The ban applies to all pensions cold-calls, except where both of the following points apply:
- Where the caller is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, and
- The person receiving the call consents to calls or has an existing relationship with the caller.
Calls about your pension in any other situation are illegal. They may even be a scam!
What do I do if I receive a call?
If you receive an unwanted call from an unknown caller about your pension, don't give out any personal information. Gather as much information as possible and report it to the Information Commissioner's Office.
Call their helpline on 0303 123 1113 (local rate – calls to this number cost the same as calls to 01 or 02 numbers).
If you think you've received a genuine call from your pensions scheme but are unsure, hang up the phone, look up the company's phone number and call back on a different phone line.
Changes to the LGPS
It is the intention of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to introduce revised factors 'in February/March 2019'. These will affect the benefits payable to those that retire on or after the date of their introduction.
If you are considering, or will be retiring on or after 1 February 2019, please take this into account when making any decisions concerning your LGPS benefits, early reduction or late retirement factors could change.
Equitable Life Assurance Society announcement 08/2018
Equitable Life has now proposed to transfer the Society and all its polices to Reliance Life. In order to complete the transfer, they will need to consult with their Regulators, seek the opinion of an independent expert appointed specifically to look after policyholder’s interests, and obtain approval from the High Court.
Equitable Life expect this process to be completed towards the end of 2019 and the transfer of policies to Reliance Life would follow shortly afterwards.
There is nothing that policyholders need to do now, and Equitable Life will continue to service policies until the transfer. If the transfer is approved, the terms and conditions of unit-linked policies will be unchanged and they will be administered by Reliance Life.
In the meantime Equitable Life will continue to communicate directly with members.
Amendment Regulations 2018 *07/2018*
The Disclosure 2013 Regulations require that pension schemes inform all members and beneficiaries of the scheme, of any change to the scheme that results in a material change to the basic scheme information, as listed in Part 1 of schedule 2 of those regulations. The basic scheme information is generally the information that would be included in the brief scheme guide.
Changes have been made to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). These changes came into effect from 14 May 2018 and are summarised in the document below.
Whilst a significant number of changes were technical amendments to clarify wording and terminology of the original LGPS Regulations 2013, there are some fundamental changes which members need to be aware of.
All the changes that affected our deferred members were included in a newsletter issued with their benefit statements earlier in the year.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact the Staffordshire Pension Fund, directly.
On 25 May 2018 a new EU directive comes into force that will replace and enhance the current data protection regulations.
Staffordshire Pension Fund use certain items of your personal data, provided by you or your employer, to administer the Fund and to calculate and provide you with benefits. These items are already protected under the current data protection regulations and will continue to be protected under the new regulations.
Further information about this new legislation can be found in the question and answer document below: