Report of the City Treasurer.
6.1 Peter Carpenter presented the report that focused on Risk 25, “BTunable to provide monthly or end of year interface files in a format suitable for Surrey County Council (SCC) to update service records and undertake day to day operations. Inaccuracies in service records held on the pensions administration system may impact on the triennial funding valuation at March 2016 and notifications to starters and leavers”, that had been requested at the last Board meeting. Members noted that this issue had also been discussed at the last Pension Fund Committee meeting on 21 March, where Board Members had also been present, and an eight stage plan had been put in place following this discussion. Every effort was being made to ensure that the interface would work correctly and accurately.
6.2 Lee Witham (Director of People Services) advised that BT were not meeting a number of deadlines set to resolve the issues. He stated that Sarah Hay (Pensions and Payroll Adviser) and People Services colleagues had visited the BT office in April to review actions being taken and had made some suggestions to BT.
6.3 During Members’ discussions, it was asked whether the P60s were correct and it was emphasised that every effort should be made to ensure that the pension payments were correct. Members sought clarification as to whether the problems were mainly attributable to BT and what steps were being taken with regard to those who had been due to draw their pensions whilst the interface was in the process of being put in place. The Board enquired whether first pension payments were still being made late. Members commented that it was difficult to track whether scheme members were being paid the correct amount. In respect of other organisations that were Fund members, it was asked if they were experiencing similar problems, including inaccurate Annual Benefit Statements.
6.4 Members commented that aspects of the pension scheme that were running well should be communicated to scheme members and the Board also expressed interest in hearing of the experiences of admitted bodies in the Fund. Members expressed their appreciation for the efforts undertaken by People Services to address the issues. It was remarked that pensions in respect of teaching assistants could become an issue, as some performed more than one role at their school and they may also be receiving various allowances which could complicate calculating their pensions. It was also possible that data for some teaching assistants would be lacking.
6.5 In reply to the issues raised, Lee Witham advised that although there were inaccuracies with P60s in previous years, they were now correct. In respect of those due to receive their first pension payments, he advised that People Services were completing leavers’ forms to ensure accuracy. Members heard that a number of issues raised were relatively minor, however a lot of attention had been drawn to the problems experienced. Lee Witham stated that it was intended to proactively seek the views of scheme members and for them to share their pension administration experiences. He also advised that other organisations within the Fund had not experienced the same problems as the Council because they did not use BT as their payroll provider.
6.6 Sarah Hay added that the data of scheme members of other organisations was generally accurate, although there had been a couple of end of year return issues. Some payroll providers had not been quick in responding to requests for data, but this was not a large concern. Sarah Hay also informed the Board that People Services had provided training on pension matters and completion of forms to CityWest Homes.
6.7 Peter Carpenter advised that an additional 10,000 issues had been raised when the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RKBC) and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) had joined the SCC pension administration service agreement. Generally, the main cause of the problems had been BT’s inability to produce an appropriate interface to collect accurate data. Peter Carpenter also emphasised the importance of problems being reported as otherwise they would not be corrected.