Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 21 September 2010

Present: 
Mr D McClarty 
Mr T Lunn 
Mr J Dallat 
Mr J Wells

Apologies: 
Mrs M O’Neill

In the Chair: 
Mr D McClarty

In attendance: 
Mrs Diane Lamont, Mrs Louise Anderson, Mr W Long, Mr A Kennedy

1. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS TRUSTEES MEETING

The Chairman welcomed Diane Lamont, the new Senior HR Manager, to her first Pension Trustees meeting. The minutes of the Trustee meeting held on 6 July 2010 were agreed.

Action required:

  • Pensions Team to arrange for upload of minutes of 6 July 2010 to the Assembly website.

2. STANDING ITEMS

Risk Register

The Trustees were advised that the risk register will be reviewed and that outstanding actions will be updated prior to the next meeting.

Action required:

  • Pensions Team to ensure that all outstanding actions on the Risk Register are reviewed before next meeting.

3. MATTERS ARISING

Scheme Rule Changes

The Trustees considered and agreed the draft ‘Terms of Reference’ for engaging a specialist advisor to undertake a full review of the current pension scheme rules. The Trustees were advised that the Pension Team will obtain the relevant quotes for consideration at the next meeting.

Action required:

  • Pensions Team to obtain quotations for the review of scheme rules for consideration at next meeting.

Attorney General for Northern Ireland – pension arrangements

The Trustees noted that the Assembly Commission will be bringing a resolution to admit the Attorney General to the pension scheme before the Assembly.

Action required:

  • The Pension team to write to the Attorney General to arrange collection of backdated contributions (subject to the resolution being passed).

NI Assembly Members Act 2010

The Trustees considered a paper from GAD outlining the financial implications for MLAs of the Northern Ireland Members Act 2010.

The Trustees agreed with the recommendation from GAD that Members who cease to receive any salary in respect of their service, but continue as a Member of the Assembly should have their accrued benefits revalued in line with MLA salary (rather than in line with RPI as for early leavers).

The Trustees also agreed the following GAD recommendations in relation to ill-health retirement, Death-in-Service Spouse’s Pension and Death-in Service and Lump Sum: -

  • There should be no enhancement where an MLA who is not actively participating in the scheme becomes eligible for ill-health retirement.
  • As dual mandate Members would not be accruing benefits after the NI Assembly Members Act 2010 came into force, benefits accrued prior to the Act should be increased in line with MLA salary at time of retirement (rather than in line with RPI as for early leavers).
  • No enhancement in service to be taken into account when calculating the spouse’s pension in respect of a dual mandate MLA who dies while still a Member of the Assembly. Revaluation of benefits accrued before the NI Assembly Members Act 2010 came into force should be carried out in line with MLA salary at that time.
  • The lump sum benefit on death in service for dual mandate MLAs should cease from the date the NI Assembly Members Act 2010 came into force.
  • The facility for dual mandate Members to make ‘added years’ contributions should cease as from when the NI Assembly Members Act 2010 came into force.

The Trustees decided not to accept the recommendation from GAD in relation to money purchase additional voluntary contributions. The Trustees agreed that dual mandate members should not have the opportunity to contribute to the AVC arrangement on a money purchase basis after the NI Assembly Members Act 2010 came into force.

Action required:

  • The Pension team to produce a paper for consideration by the Assembly Commission on the treatment of dual mandate Members following the passing of the NI Assembly Members Act 2010.

Ill-Health Retirement

The Trustees discussed an ill-health retirement application and supporting medical evidence from a former Member. The Trustees agreed that ill-health retirement was appropriate on this occasion.

The Trustees also considered correspondence in relation to the ill-health retirement application and agreed an appropriate response.

Action required:

The Pension team to process former Member’s approved ill-health retirement application and to issue agreed response to correspondence received.

4. PENSION INCREASES

The Trustees considered a letter (dated 7 July 2010) and a subsequent paper from GAD explaining the potential implications for the NIAMPS of moving to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) as the basis for increasing pensions in payment, and for revaluing deferred benefits.

The Trustees agreed to request legal advice (to be paid out of scheme fund) on the implications of either retaining the Retail Prices Index (RPI) or moving to CPI. The Trustees also agreed to invite Grant Ballantine (GAD) to the next meeting to provide further advice and discuss the options available. The Trustees agreed to continue using RPI in the meantime.

Action required:

  • The Pension team to request legal advice as agreed and to arrange for Mr Ballantine (GAD) to attend next meeting to brief Trustees.

5. EARNINGS CAP

The Trustees considered a paper from Grant Ballantine (GAD) outlining the options available should they decide to introduce some form of cap on the quantum of earnings to be taken into account when determining benefits from the NIAMPS.

The Trustees agreed to invite Grant Ballantine (GAD) to the next meeting to discuss the options available, before making any decision.

Action required:

  • The Pensions team to arrange for Grant Ballantine (GAD) to attend next meeting to facilitate further discussion and clarity on the issue.

6. INVESTMENT MANAGER UPDATE

The Trustees were briefed by Mr Alec Spooner, Scheme Director M&G, on the 2 nd Quarterly Report and the M&G Pooled Pensions Specialist UK Equity Fund . Mr Spooner outlined the rationale for the changes to the investment restrictions of the Specialist UK Equity Fund which currently represents almost 40% of the schemes investment.

7. AMPS ANNUAL REPORT & ACCOUNTS

The Trustees considered the NIAMPS Annual Report and Accounts for the period 1 st April 2009 to 31 st March 2010 . Trustees noted that the Fund value had increased by more than £5m from 1 st April 2009 to 1 st April 2010.

8. NORTHERN IRELAND AUDIT OFFICE

The Trustees were briefed by Andrew Allen, NIAO, on the Draft Report to those charged with Governance Audit results. The Trustees noted that the audit resulted in the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) providing a clean audit opinion. Trustees also noted that there were three recommendations in relation to legal advice payments, authorisation of lump sum payment and bank reconciliations in the report and that these recommendations had lower priority ratings.

Action required:

  • The Pensions team to arrange response by 1 st October 2010.

9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund Review

The Trustees considered and noted a report summary of the review of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) as commissioned by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

AMPS news

The Trustees considered and approved the draft October 2010 Edition of the AMPS News.

Action required:

  • The Pensions team to arrange issue of the October 2010 Edition of the AMPS News.

10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The Trustees agreed to meet on 23 November 2010 (at 10.00am).

Action Required:

  • Pensions Team to confirm date and issue meeting invites.

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