45th Meeting of the Pension Trustees held on Tuesday 19 th January 2010Present: Mr D McClarty
Mr J Wells
Mr T Lunn
Mr J Dallat
Mrs M O’Neill
In the Chair: Mr D McClarty
In attendance: Ms Sinead Lappin, Mrs L Anderson, Mr W Long, Mrs J Beattie
1. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS TRUSTEES MEETING
The minutes of the Trustee meeting held on 15 September 2009 were agreed.
- Pensions Team to arrange for upload of minutes of 15 September 2009 to the Assembly website
2. STANDING ITEMS
The Trustees agreed the amended Risk Register.
3. MATTERS ARISING
Trustee training requirements
The Trustees were reminded of the importance of undertaking the online learning provided by the Pension Regulator, as agreed at the previous Trustees meeting.
- Pensions Team to arrange to visit Trustees offices to assist with registration and set up.
The Trustees were advised that the Actuary has provided a set of factors as agreed and that these are now in use.
The Trustees were advised that, following the decision taken at the last meeting, M&G have been instructed to divert 50% of new money to a separate fund invested in corporate bonds (from September 2009 onwards).
4. PENSIONS AUDIT COMMITTEE
The Trustees were briefed on the ‘discussion paper’ outlining the NI Audit Office Report recommendation that consideration should be given to the setting up of an Audit Committee for the Assembly Members Pension Scheme.
The Trustees noted the fact that, currently, both the Trustees and the Pension Team monitor the implementation of any accepted audit recommendations. The Trustees also noted the fact that the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC) currently consider all Internal Audit Reports.
The Trustees were advised that, following discussions with NIAO and Internal Audit, they may wish to consider inviting a member of staff from the NIAO to attend one Trustee meeting each year to discuss the implementation of agreed audit report recommendations.
The Trustees subsequently agreed to invite a member of staff from the NIAO to attend one Trustee meeting each year to discuss the implementation of agreed audit recommendations as well as facilitating the raising of any other areas of concern regarding the management of the scheme.
The Trustees discussed the cost-effectiveness of establishing an Audit Committee and, after consideration, agreed that they would not, at this time, establish an audit committee on the basis of value for money.
- Pensions Team to arrange a visit by NIAO at an appropriate meeting to discuss the implementation of agreed audit recommendations.
5. SCHEME RULE CHANGES
The Trustees considered and agreed the draft submission to the Commission outlining their recommendation that the Commission remove the Favourable Early Retirement option (Rule of 80) for new members as it is not compliant with age legislation regulations.
The Trustees noted that they are awaiting amended wording from GAD for the increased accrual rate change.
- Pensions Team to forward the agreed submission on the removal of the Favourable Early Retirement option for new members, to the Commission.
6. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Approval of New Pensions
The Trustees approved the payment of a pension in respect of Francie Brolly.
Ill Health Retirement Pension Application
The Trustees considered the application and supporting evidence from Carmel Hanna MLA for an ill health pension under Part J of the scheme rules.
The Trustees, having considered all the evidence available, were satisfied that Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA met the criteria for ill health retirement (under Part J of the scheme rules) and agreed that she be entitled to receive an ill health pension (under Article F1 or F2) from the time she ceased to be a participating member.
The Trustees agreed that this case, and all future cases, should be considered on their own merit.
- Pensions Team to notify Mrs Hanna and process application for ill health retirement.
Internal Audit Follow-up
The Trustees were informed that the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC), requested that Internal Audit re-audit the Members Pensions Scheme. The original audit had been carried out by an external company in February 2009. The Trustees noted that the audit is complete and the report awaited.
Freedom of Information request
The Trustees considered a request received under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Although not subject to the requirements of the Act, the Trustees discussed the request and agreed the draft response prepared by the Pensions Team.
- Pensions Team to issue response to requestor.
7. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The Trustees agreed to meet during April 2010.
- Pensions Team to confirm date and issue meeting invites.
8. PENSIONS ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT
The Pensions Team left the meeting whilst the Trustees considered a paper on the ‘Review of Pensions Administrative Arrangements’.
The Trustees agreed that, subject to costs, a further specific review of the administration arrangements for the AMPS be conducted by a specialist parliamentary pension adviser.
The Trustees also agreed that the cost of the review is met from the AMPS Pension Fund.
The Trustees agreed to sign off a ‘Procurement Strategy’ for the review to ensure that it meets with their needs and understanding of what ‘product’ they are procuring.
- Head of HR to prepare draft ‘Procurement Strategy’ for a review of the administration arrangements for consideration and approval by the Trustees.