Agenda item

Staffordshire Pension Fund Business Plan 2019/20

Report of the Director of Corporate Services


The Director of Corporate Services presented the Pensions Business Plan 2019/20 and explained that for reasons of best practice and good governance, it was important for the Committee to consider and approve an annual Business Plan for the Pension Fund.


The Committee noted the progress against the current year’s Business Plan which showed that significant successes had been achieved in several areas including;


   Implementing Hymans Employer Asset Tracker (HEAT) in preparation for the 2019 Actuarial Valuation;


   Ensuring full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR);  


   Making real progress with i-Connect;


   Engaging with Employers through Employer Focus Newsletters, an Employer Training Day and the creation of an Employer Focus Peer Group; 


   Redesigning the Staffordshire Pension Fund Website;


   Embedding the Governance of the LGPS Central pool, including the working of the Shareholders Forum, Joint Committee and the Practitioners Advisory Forum and its working groups; and


   Preparing for the transition of Assets into LGPS Central Limited.


The Committee had been made aware in previous year’s reports of the challenges implicit in administering the LGPS, since the introduction of the 2014 scheme and the regulatory complexity that brought with it. At its meeting in December 2018 the Pensions Committee approved a 6-month extension to the backlog project, undertaken with an external provider, to assist with the competing demands on internal resources.  Whilst performance in certain areas might not be back to the optimum target levels the Pensions Services Teams aspired to, there was a real sense that things were improving.


Issues due to the increasing number of payroll providers were being addressed and remained a key priority. The wider implementation of i-Connect would assist in the quality and timeliness of data, however this created additional pressure on the teams in the short term as it generated more errors and queries.


A full set of performance statistics would be provided as part of the Outturn reporting for the next meeting of the Committee.


The Committee also noted that the Business Plan for 2019/20 had been split into two distinct sections. The first dealing with Key Development Activities which aimed to make the way we work more efficient and effective; and the second section dealing with the activities that needed to be undertaken as part of the day job, but which impacted the team significantly at certain points in the year or which happened as a by-product of another activity e.g. finalising the year end data. 


Areas which the Pensions Services Teams had identified as Key Development Activities in 2019/20 included:


     Undertaking a Mortality / Living as Stated / Tracing Exercise prior to the issue of Deferred Members Annual Benefit Statements in 2020;


     Continuing to implement i-Connect software for data collection with Fund Employers, with the aim of having as close to 100% of Active Fund Member data being submitted monthly;


     Continued development of the Pension Fund’s website ( and the promotion of Member Self Service;


     Reviewing the Fund’s Strategic Asset Allocation alongside the Actuarial Valuation;


     Maintaining effective pool Governance and monitoring asset transitions into LGPS Central as more sub-funds were launched; and  


     Appointing 4 Members of the Local Pensions Board.  


The Committee were also informed that the primary risks to the continued delivery of a pension’s administration, accounting and investment monitoring service to the high standards achieved were;


       Having a team of staff, sufficiently resourced, with the right experience to cope with changes to Government Legislation;


       The ability to deal with an increasing number of Employers and the challenge and complexities their different requirements present;


       The increasing fragmentation of payroll provision and the requirement for accurate and timely data; and ultimately 


       The need to ensure that the correct Pensioner Members are paid on time with the correct amount.


These, and other risks, are further analysed in the Pension Fund’s Risk Register, the latest version of which would be presented in full to the Committee’s meeting in June 2019.  In response to a question from Mr Adams, the Director of Corporate services also undertook to include in the report some data in relation to complaints.


In response to a question from Mr Sutherland in relation to Investment Management fees, the Director of Corporate Services indicated that these fees vary dependent on the value of the assets under management (AUM) and the level of manager performance.  Mr Jenkinson also requested that the Committee be provided with separate information in relation to the cost to the Fund for the running of LGPS Central Limited.


RESOLVED   That the Pensions Business Plan for 2019/20 be approved and the key challenges be noted.

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