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Meeting of the Pension Trustees held on 15 April 2008

Mr D McClarty
Mr Jim Wells
Mrs M O’Neill

Mr T Lunn
Mr J Dallat

In the Chair: Mr D McClarty

In attendance:
Mr G Ballantine (GAD),
Mr E Hobson (NIA),
Mrs L Anderson (NIA), a
nd Mr H Clarke (NIA)


Mr McClarty welcomed Mr Ballantine to the meeting and thanked him for attending. The minutes of the Trustees meeting held on 11 March 08 were agreed.

Challenge to scheme

The Trustees were informed that a letter dated 28 March 08 was received from the former member and that legal advice had been requested from Eversheds. This advice was issued to the Trustees prior to the meeting.

Mr Wells noted that the letter of 28 March 08 referred to a meeting that was held at the member’s solicitor’s office. The letter states that the Trustees indicated that they would consider a full reimbursement of legal fees. Mr Wells, seconded by Mr McClarty, recalled that this was not the position taken by the Trustees at this meeting and requested that this be noted for the record. The Trustees agreed that a letter be drafted to the former member restating the Trustees original offer and imposing a deadline for acceptance.

Actions required:
Transfer of funds to new investment manager

Mr McClarty informed the Trustees that the assets held by Baillie Gifford were transferred to Prudential M&G (who will now to be referred to as M&G) on 3 April 2008.

Administrative support to the Trustees

Mr Hobson informed the Trustees that a draft memorandum of understanding between the Trustees and the Assembly Commission had been forwarded to the Assembly Legal Services office for advice. Mr Hobson added that a similar approach to administrative support has been adopted by Westminster and the Welsh Assembly.


It was agreed at the meeting of 11 March 2008 that the changes to the Scheme be completed by ‘Resolution’ of the Assembly. Legal advice has advised that there is sufficient power in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to effect these changes.

Mr Ballantine provided a brief background to the outstanding amendments arising from the Pensions Act 2004 and the Finance Act 2004. The Trustees considered a number of issues and agreed the following amendments:


Current Position

Proposal agreed

Annual Pensions Increase

Pensions in Payment are increased in line with RPI, no cap

Remain fully in line with RPI in parity with other Parliamentary and Public Sector Schemes

Trivial Commutation

Pensions are paid monthly no matter how small the amount

Amend the rules to permit trivial commutation at the Trustees discretion, within the Finance Act 2004 limits

Additional Options at Retirement

Pension benefits are paid (only option is commutation of part of pension) applying the same rules to all members

No change. It was agreed that by offering additional flexibilities, it would prove complex to administer and could lead to delays in paying benefits

Earnings Cap

Pensionable Earnings cap in place at level of £112,800 pa (07/08). Earnings above the cap are not pensionable i.e. no pension contributions are made on earnings above the cap.

Dis-apply the Earnings cap from 2011 to simplify administration. High earnings are not a major issue for the AMPS.


Current Position

Proposal agreed

Benefit Limits

Members AMPS pension cannot exceed 2/3rds of their final salary.

Retain the 2/3rds limit, in parity with other Parliamentary and Public Sector schemes

Retained Benefits

Benefits retained in other pension schemes and Transferred In service count towards the 2/3rds limit.

When calculating benefit limits do not count Retained benefits but continue to count transferred in service or added years to limit liabilities


Members make additional voluntary contributions to Clerical Medical. Total pension contributions may not exceed 15% of salary. Members pay 6% contribution to the AMPS, so their AVC’s are limited to a maximum of 9% of salary.

Continue to offer AVCs with an increased maximum limit of 15% for additional contributions. A maximum limit of 21% of salary will apply, this includes the current member contribution rate of 6% paid into the AMPS

Added Years

Members may purchase added years in the AMPS

Honour any existing added years contracts but do not accept any new applications

The Trustees also discussed the implications arising from the introduction of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 and in particular to the removal of the Favourable Early Retirement provision, also referred to as the ‘Rule of 80’. It was agreed that further discussion would be needed on this option and that it would be re-addressed at the next meeting.

The proposed amendment to provide an ‘optional’ increase in the accrual rate from 1/50 to 1/40, at the member’s own expense (approximately 11% of salary) was discussed. Mr Ballantine confirmed that this would be an optional rule introduced to the Scheme and would be in no way compulsory. It was suggested that the change could come into effect in line with the next Assembly election in 2011. The Trustees agreed to further consider this amendment at a future meeting.

Actions Required:

The Trustees were informed of a Freedom of Information request relating to current pensioners’ payment details. Following a discussion of the issue, the Trustees decided that pensions, as opposed to salary were of a personal nature, and it was not unreasonable for pensioners to expect that their details would not be released. Therefore, the Trustees agreed to release the following information:

Actions Required:

The next meeting will be arranged to take place on a Tuesday before Summer Recess between 12.30 and 2.00pm.

11 March 2008 / Menu