David Coates, Retained Pensions Manager, provided an overview of the report and noted that this was presented at the last Pension Fund Sub-Committee in November 2019.
The report from Trevor Webster, Human Resources, stated that in September 2019 the Pensions Regulator (TPR) issued a report which followed the survey carried out between October 2018 and July 2019 into the Governance and Administration of Public Sector pensions. As part of the report the Pensions Regulator fed back on good practice and suggested improvements that could be made. The findings and best practice were compared to the current governance standards within the Council’s Local Government Pension Scheme fund and conclusions and recommendations had been made.
On behalf of Neil Newton (Scheme Member Representative), Members asked why there was a need for a data improvement plan, following the data recently produced for the triennial valuation. This suggested that the data provided was deficient and queried if any problems had been identified. In response David Coates said that the Scheme Manager monitored the level of accuracy and consistency within the pensions data. Discussions were currently ongoing with the SCC regarding the creation of a revised Data Improvement Plan following the data recently produced for the valuation of the fund. There were some areas of scheme member data that still required further cleansing, which included the processing of undecided leavers and Missing Care Pay / Missing Full-Time Equivalent Pay. Member records had also not been updated in some cases with the reasons for leaving, date of leaving, and periods of missing pensionable service. However, for undecided leavers, the missing information was sent to SCC by the Council. These areas must be actioned by SCC in addition to setting up revised data improvement plan. David Coates provided reassurances to members and noted that a meeting would be held with SCC to resolve data cleansing matter in due course.
Councillor Bora Kwon said that although this seemed like a legacy issue from previous challenges faced with BT/Capita, it was vital for these records to be updated by SCC. In response David Coates explained that Officers were working with SCC to implement a new way of managing the data which would involve refreshing records on a monthly basis, rather than using the current annual membership update model of year-end files, which was very antiquated. Once this was implemented, this would eliminate a lot of the ongoing data related issues.
David Coates noted that a recommendation from TPR was that a risk register should be in place and cover all potential areas. This should regularly be reviewed by the Pension Board. He explained that a fund risk register was in place and reported to the Pensions Board and Pensions Fund Sub-Committee by the Investment Team. To supplement the fund’s risk register, the Pension Administrators were creating a risk register focussed solely on Pension Administration risks. This would be shared with the Pensions Board and Pensions Fund Sub-Committee regularly.
David Coates referring to page 33 of the agenda pack noted that another recommendation was for the scheme manager to arrange suitable training for Pension Board Members and set clear expectations around meeting attendance, therefore members should consider when a review of the training needs should be carried out. i.e. tailored sessions delivered to the board.
The Chair said that it would be a challenge to understand and deliver individual training needs. However, it would be useful for Officers to deliver a few standard training sessions for all members to ensure everyone was up to speed on the key areas. Members would then have a better idea to identify opportunities for further training development following these sessions. Additionally, the Chair requested that training on the triennial valuation also be included as part of the standard sessions.
The Chair also suggested that it would be effective for SCC to attend the next Pensions Board meeting to present a summary of their service provision in greater detail and answer any questions from the Board. In response David Coates explained that SCC were in the process of appointing a new Head of Service, therefore it would be a good opportunity for SCC to attend a future meeting if Members felt this was necessary.
THAT, the Pensions Board noted the report and approved the actions detailed in Appendix 1.