Summer is here....

Dear Colleagues & Associates,

Summer is here... and I offer you a very warm welcome to our Scheme Advisory Board website.

We are now well into 2018 and we hit the ground running with the last notes of Auld Lang Syne still ringing in our ears.

2018 started with the successful Tax Awareness seminars we ran across the country; grateful thanks to Annemarie Allen of Barnett Waddingham who ran them for us; we have listened to the feedback from those who attended the sessions and it is our intention to run a number of follow up, technically based seminars specifically for our pensions practitioners who have responsibility for taxation - watch this website space... http://www.fpsboard.org/

The Board’s three Sub Groups continue their work to improve the way we manage Fire Pensions overall and support the 44 Local Pension Boards (LPBs) we assist.

Our Cost Effectiveness sub group continue their work on the valuation exercise along with the benchmarking of administration costs - no small task!

The Local Pension Board sub group works towards improving the effectiveness of LPBs along with the development of LPB Members and pension practitioner colleagues responsible for managing the Boards out in the Fire Authorities.

The group carried out a survey of LPBs the results of which can be accessed on this website under, "Board Publications - Board surveys"; if you haven't read it yet, I would recommend it to you - and also thank those of you who competed the survey for us.

The sub group is also analysing the outcomes of last year’s TPR survey on Governance and will, later in the year, be making recommendations to the SAB as to the structure, work and responsibilities of LPBs.

Our Administration & Benchmarking sub group is currently working on the benchmarking of administration standards across FRAs, paying particular attention to 'championing' on-line solutions and improvements from the software suppliers and especially in respect of Member Self Service options which we would like every FRA to work towards.

As you will note, there is a synergy between each of our sub groups.

As part of meeting the Scheme Advisory Board’s work plan, I am delighted to inform you that the board has recently appointed Weightmans as legal adviser to the board, and are seeking to make two further appointments, one as an actuarial adviser to the board and the second to undertake a review of administration and management costs for the Firefighter Pension Schemes.

Further instructions are on the board website - http://www.fpsboard.org/index.php/board-publications/invitation-to-bid and the bid process will run until 15 June 2018.

Claire Hey has pulled out all the stops and added a new website to the FPS portfolio. The www.fpsregs.org website was launched in February to rave reviews and is proving to be a very successful resource which many pension practitioner colleagues are frequently accessing.

In addition, Claire has also added further resources to this our original board website under 'Local Pension Boards', where you will find 'Resources’ and ‘Training' in the drop down menu, well worth a read as you will see confirmation that each LPB is entitled to a free annual training session funded through the statutory levy each FRA pays.

Under 'Resources', you will see a list of resources that have been developed to facilitate the effective running of LPBs; a great basis for planning the training requirements for your LPB Members - (Hint!)... Remember, if you have a query or question, a good trawl through the relevant Board Website may well provide you with the answer you are looking for - give it a try...

2018 dawned as the 'Chinese Year Of The Dog', in the world of Pensions it dawned as ' The Year Of Data', GDPR is here and TPR in particular are extremely keen to ensure we all have our data checked and correct, and in their words, they will be carrying out, "deep dives", on LPBs and the pension schemes they are responsible for.....a good time therefore to ensure your data is as it should be...

Besides the Tax Awareness seminars we ran, the SAB has also run a seminar on GDPR, a practitioners training session on Special Members of FPS 2006 and a joint Fire & Police governance event, all of which have been well attended and appreciated.

Keep your eye on this website for future events, we recently advertised the forthcoming LPB ‘wrap up’ training session for LPB members and practitioners which will take place on 19 June.

We also have our Annual Conference which will take place at the LGA offices, Smith Square, London over 17 and 18 September - one to watch out for...!

As always, we owe so much to Clair Alcock and Claire Hey who do so much to ensure Fire Pensions are well serviced by the Scheme Advisory Board and our sub groups; most of the initiatives, seminars and training events are due in no small way to the enthusiasm and foresight of 'the Clair(e)s’. At this stage I should also thank Helen Scargill, Chair of the Technical committee, who in that capacity sits as Technical advisor to the SAB.

We also maintain high levels of contact with our Home Office Fire Pensions colleagues, our contact from GAD, our various TPR contacts along with The Pensions Ombudsman and The Pensions Advisory Service, who are now combining forces and working under the same roof in their new offices in Canary Wharf.

We continue to attend various external seminars, workshops, conferences and pension related events to ensure we keep Fire Pensions ahead of the curve where possible and I believe we have been able to influence the way the Government’s 'Dashboard' initiative will be rolled out, which hopefully will ensure we receive all the benefits such a system can offer without having to carry out the same level of data input and expense private sector schemes are likely to face.

Sincere Best Wishes and 'Thank You' for accessing this website...

Malcolm

Malcolm Eastwood, CBE, CStJ, QFSM, FIFireE

Chairman, English Firefighters' Pension Scheme Advisory Board.

INTO 2018 AND BEYOND....

Dear Colleagues and Associates,

INTO 2018 AND BEYOND....

Firstly, can I wish you all a "Happy New Year"...I hope you had a very enjoyable Festive Break and were able to re-charge your batteries ready for all 2018 will undoubtedly bring.

We on the Scheme Advisory Board have an ambitious workload ahead of us for 2018 which you will be pleased to know includes a review of issues surrounding Pensionable Pay....

We will also be holding our Annual Conference over the 17th & 18th of September, details of which will be published on our Events page, once our conference arrangements are finalised.

Our three SAB Sub Groups will continue their work with regards to Cost-Effectiveness, Administration & Benchmarking and Local Pension Board Effectiveness to provide efficiency, advice, guidance & support; I am hopeful that each of these Groups will deliver tangible outcomes to the benefit of all our Fire Pensions stakeholders, and in particular our 'Fire Pensions Family' working out in the FRA's.

A Challenge...! Those of you who attended last year’s Annual Conference will remember Peter Spreadbury from the Home Office issuing a challenge to those of us working in the Fire Pensions domain which was:-

"How can we, the Fire Pensions Community, take forward the 'Pensions Agenda', improve and innovate the way we manage, administer and deliver fire pensions within the constraints FRA's, etc currently have due to restricted resources, time, expertise, constraints of government legislation and time, etc.".

The above 'challenge' is one we should be looking closely at given the objectives I and my SAB colleagues were set on our appointments. I would therefore welcome any thoughts, views and suggestions you may have, either individually, or as part of any Fire Pensions group or board you serve on. Answers on a metaphorical postcard please to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

As I hope you will deduce, I am extremely keen to ensure the Firefighters' Pension Schemes run smoothly, efficiently and that those of you who work in this important domain receive every support, guidance and assistance we can give you, which will in turn benefit scheme members, FRA's, HM Government and ultimately the Taxpayer.

To this end, I am very fortunate to have the backing and support of my fellow Scheme Advisory Board members and we are greatly assisted by Clair Alcock and Claire Hey from the LGA Fire Pensions support team who between them provide professional, technical and administrative support across the Fire Pensions domain, including providing annual training to FRA's and liaison with The Pensions Regulator, The Pensions Ombudsman, Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs, the National Fire Chiefs Council and other such related bodies.

I look forward to meeting as many of you working on Fire Pensions as I can over the coming year and I close by thanking you on behalf of all scheme members, of which I am one myself, for all you do on our behalf.

Sincere Best Wishes,

Malcolm

Malcolm Eastwood, CBE, CStJ, QFSM, FIFireE

Chairman, English Firefighters' Pension Scheme Advisory Board.

 

The Pensions Regulator Annual Governance & Administration Survey

Dear Colleagues,

REMINDER - THE PENSIONS REGULATOR ANNUAL GOVERNANCE & ADMINISTRATION SURVEY 2017

Please be advised that The Pensions Regulator, TPR, sent out their Annual Governance & Administration Survey to Scheme Managers on 8 November 2017. I would encourage you to ensure the survey is completed in full and returned to them, as requested, by 1 December 2017.

TPR have asked for FRAs to identify themselves in the survey. Although this is not mandatory, it would help both TPR and the Scheme Advisory Board if you could do this as we can then incorporate any training or administration requirements later identified as necessary across our Fire Pensions family.

I’m conscious that some FRAs may not be aware the survey had been sent out, so would ask you to ensure that you have received it and are taking the necessary actions to have it completed and returned by the due date.

When I met with TPR last week, they stressed we shouldn't be “typically English” by being modest on our scoring / answers; I would therefore ask you to be totally up front and honest in your responses.

Last year, Fire had a 98% response return rate of the survey across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I would like with your assistance to achieve a full 100% return this year.

Thank you in anticipation for your assistance.

Kindest regards,

Malcolm

Malcolm Eastwood, CBE, CStJ, QFSM, FIFireE

Chairman, English Firefighters' Pension Scheme Advisory Board.

You found us....!!!

A very warm welcome to this, The Firefighters' Pensions (England) Scheme Advisory Board website.

Malcolm Eastwood

I hope you will find the information and links contained within this, our foundational website, useful, informative, and interesting.

Keep your eyes on the website as it is our intention to expand it as we on the Scheme Advisory Board, in conjunction with our colleagues in our Fire Pensions Family across England's Fire & Rescue Authorities develop our knowledge, procedures, policies and examples of best practice, which through the medium of this domain specific website can be accessed and shared widely across the Fire Sector and its personnel who have a vested interest in the Firefighters' Pension Schemes.

My colleagues on the Scheme Advisory Board and I would welcome your comments, suggestions for the development of this website, and general feedback via the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sincere Best Wishes and 'Thank You' for accessing this website...

Malcolm

Malcolm Eastwood, CBE, CStJ, QFSM, FIFireE

Chairman, English Firefighters' Pension Scheme Advisory Board.