Issue 2 October 2009
Welcome to the October edition of ‘AMPS News’, the newsletter for members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Members Pension Scheme.
Through the newsletter we aim to keep you informed of issues relating to your pension benefits.
The Pension Trustees
The AMPS is administered by 5 Pension Trustees who are Assembly Members nominated by their parties and appointed by the Assembly.
The current Trustees are:
David McClarty MLA Chairman
John Dallat MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Michelle O'Neill MLA
Jim Wells MLA
The Pensions Team
The Pensions Team of the Assembly’s HR Office carry out the day to day administration of the Pension Scheme on behalf of the Trustees.
The Pensions Team is:
Sinead Lappin, Head of HR
Louise Anderson, HR Pensions Team Manager
William Long, HR Pensions Team Supervisor
We can be contacted at:
HR Pensions Team
Annexe C, Dundonald House
Belfast , BT4 3SF
Tel: 028 9052 5558 / 9052 4778 / 9052 5297
Fax : 028 9052 0871
2. Current Members
Topping Up your Pension
You can top up the pension benefits you are building up in one of two ways:
You can buy additional years of reckonable service in the Scheme, either by monthly payment or by lump sum. After April 2011 this facility will be removed although existing added years contracts will continue.
Conditions apply so please ask for a personal quote
Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)
AVCs are additional pension savings. This is an extra ‘pot’ of money which will be used to buy you an additional pension when you retire. You may contribute any amount up to a maximum of 15% of your pay to your AVC fund. The AVC provider is Clerical Medical.
It is worth noting that AVCs are deducted from your pay before tax, this may be particularly advantageous for higher rate tax payers. On retirement you can take up to 25% of your ‘pot’ as a lump sum. AVC’s come into payment along with your main scheme benefits.
Conditions apply so please ask for a personal quote.
You should always seek independent financial advice before making any change to your pension benefits.
Don’t forget about your staff!!
Members Employees Pension Arrangements
The Members Employees Pension Arrangements allow you as an employer to contribute towards a pension for your staff.
We all know that a good pension plan is a valuable part of an employee’s remuneration package.
Acting on your behalf we will make a contribution of up to 10% of the employee’s gross salary to their pension plan.
This money does not come from your OCA but from money the Assembly has set aside for this purpose.
Certain conditions apply so please contact us for further information.
In the News…..
There have been a number of recent high profile incidents involving the loss or theft of laptops containing personal or sensitive information.
We would like to assure you that we take every precaution to keep your data safe and secure. We do not store your information on laptops or other portable devices. In the Assembly, only Pensions Team staff have access to your pension records.
3. Deferred Members
As a former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly you have benefits in the Assembly Members Pension Scheme. These benefits are deferred, or preserved, until you reach pension age.
The Scheme’s normal retirement age is 65, however you can retire early in one of two ways:
Actuarially Reduced Retirement
If you are over 55 you may apply for an early retirement pension provided you do not intend to stand for re-election at a later date. Your pension will be reduced to reflect the longer period it will be paid, currently the reduction is 4% per year. Please note that this reduction is permanent. Contact us for an illustration.
Favourable Early Retirement
If you have 15 years qualifying service in the AMPS you may be able to retire early with no reduction to your benefits. You can also count service as an MP or MEP towards this 15 years, provided you were not an MLA at the same time.
Keeping in touch
We will write to you about 6 months before your 65 th birthday, so please remember to tell us if you move house.
4. Pensioner Members
Annual Pensions Increase
Your AMPS pension is increased in April each year in line with price inflation. In April 2009 pensions in payment for the whole year were increased by 5%. Pensions in payment for part of the year were increased proportionately. The next increase will be April 2010.
Annual Data Cleanse
In April we issued Pensioners Details Forms to all pensioners to ensure the details we hold about you are accurate and up to date. This is an important exercise for us, so many thanks to all of you who responded.
Please remember to tell us if you move or change your details.
Please note that the Pensions Section is prevented by the Financial Services Act from giving financial advice. If you require financial advice you should consult an independent financial adviser.