Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2010/2011

Date: 30 November 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 Sinead McDonnell, Mrs Diane Lamont, Mrs Louise Anderson, Mr W Long

1. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS TRUSTEES MEETING

The minutes of the Trustee meeting held on 21 September 2010 were agreed.

Action required:
  • Pensions Team to arrange for upload of minutes of 21 September 2010 to the Assembly website.

2. STANDING ITEMS

Risk Register

The Trustees were content to accept the updated risk register.

3. MATTERS ARISING

Attorney General for Northern Ireland – pension arrangements

The Trustees were advised that the resolution to admit the Attorney General and to ensure that the Commission has the authority to amend the pension scheme following the changes to section 48 of the Northern Ireland Act, was agreed by the Assembly on 15 November 2010.

The Trustees noted that the Pensions Team has been in contact with OFMDFM to arrange collection of pension contributions due.

NI Assembly Members Act 2010 update

The Trustees were advised that a paper containing a number of recommendations on how the legislation changes under the NI Assembly Members Act 2010 should be applied, was issued to the Commission for discussion at their meeting due to be held on 7 th December.

Ill-Health Retirement update

The Trustees were advised that the ill-health retirement application approved at the previous Trustees meeting has been processed by the Pensions Team. The Trustees noted that a response (re commutation etc) is awaited from the member before payment can be made.

Annual Report and Accounts update

The Trustees noted that the Annual Report and Accounts for 2009 -2010 has been published, laid before the Assembly and issued to scheme members.

NI Audit Office Report update

The Trustees noted that the accepted recommendations arising from the Audit report have been implemented.

October Newsletter update

The Trustees noted that the October edition of the newsletter has been issued to all scheme members.

4. PENSION INCREASES

Mr Jim Wells MLA and Mr John Dallat MLA both declared an interest as they are members of the Ad Hoc committee established to scrutinise the Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Bill. Once passed, the bill will establish an independent financial review panel who will review all financial support to members. The interest was noted.

The Trustees were briefed by Grant Ballantine, Government Actuary’s Department, on 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 noted the fact that although the AMPS is not specifically covered by the Pension Increases Acts (1971 & 1974) the original draft bill (although not passed due to suspension) indicates the intent that pension increases would be in line with the public sector.

The Trustees agreed to request further information, from the Government Actuary’s Department, detailing the cost implications of using CPI or RPI (as the basis for increasing pensions in payment) in relation to service prior to and following the next mandate.

Action required:
  • The Pensions team to request information from GAD on the cost implications of using CPI or RPI in relation to service prior to and following the next mandate.

5. EARNINGS CAP

The Trustees were briefed by Grant Ballantine, Government Actuary’s Department, on the options available should they decide to retain some form of ‘earnings cap’.

The Trustees discussed the options available for reducing the risk of introducing volatility into the financial operations of the NIAMPS by including members with a much higher level of pensionable earnings than the existing Assembly members.

The Trustees agreed that the existing ‘earnings cap’ of £123,600 should be retained beyond 5 April 2011. Earnings up to the earnings cap will be pensionable. Benefits will be calculated on earnings up to the cap.

Action required:
  • The Pensions team to produce a paper to be considered by the Assembly Commission recommending that the earnings cap of £123,600 be retained beyond 5 April 2011.

6. ACTIONS ARISING FROM REVIEW OF THE RISK REGISTER

Review of Investment Manager’s Performance

The Trustees considered a paper prepared by GAD reviewing the Investment Manager’s Performance. The Trustees noted the performance against agreed benchmark targets up to the period 30 September 2010 (five quarters) where M&G has delivered a positive return of 34.2% (benchmark was 33.2%).

The Trustees confirmed that they are content with M&G’s performance.

Review of Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure

The Trustees agreed that they were content with the current internal dispute resolution procedure which retains the existing two stage approach and shorter timescales for response to the member.

7. SCHEME RULES REVIEW

The Trustees were advised that the agreed terms of reference had been issued to a number of pension legal firms inviting them to tender to reviewing the NIAMPS rules.

The Trustees considered the evaluation criteria and agreed on the weightings to be used when scoring the tenders received.

The Trustees established a sub-group to consider and score the tenders, at a date to be agreed. The sub-group will consist of the following members: - David McClarty MLA, Jim Wells MLA and Trevor Lunn MLA.

Action required:
  • The Pensions team to arrange a date and location for sub-group to meet to evaluate the tenders.

8. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Approval of new pension

The Trustees approved payment of a pension in respect of a former member.

Review of Administrative Support for AMPS

The Trustees agreed to consider the draft terms of reference for the review of the administrative support for AMPS after the meeting. The Pensions Team agreed to contact the Trustees in a few days.

Action required:
  • The Pensions team to arrange issue of invitations to tender subject to the Trustee’s approval of the terms of reference.
Additional Voluntary Contributions

Mr Wells asked the Pensions Team to clarify whether members may contact Clerical Medical directly or whether all instructions or queries must be directed through the team.

Action required:
  • The Pension team to confirm current arrangements with Clerical Medical.

9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The Trustees agreed to meet in February 2011.

Action Required:
  • Pensions Team to confirm date and issue meeting invites.

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