To be presented by Ms S Price, Assistant Pensions Administration Manager, Buckinghamshire Council
Ms S Price, Assistant Pensions Administration Manager, introduced the report which provided the Board with a review of the Pensions Administration Team’s performance since the last meeting of the Board.
Ms S Price highlighted the following points:
· The Pensions Administration Team had continued to receive a high volume of communications from scheme members, employers and others. The sub-teams had been very proactive in processing these within set timeframes to ensure that requests were dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.
· An additional Member Liaison Officer had now been recruited into the Member Liaison Officer Team which was responsible for dealing with telephone enquiries. It was hoped that this would help to reduce telephone queue times and increase the number of telephone calls answered.
· The Pensions Administration Team had continued to process the priority cases quickly and achieve a good turnaround time. In Quarter 4, 96.3% of priority cases were completed within the turnaround time.
· There had been a decrease in performance against the target within the leavers table specifically around processing the deferred benefits and the recalculation of the deferred benefits. This was due to the team receiving a large number of leaver notifications in bulk from an employer, some of which dated back 5 or 6 years. These targets should get back on track once the backlog had been worked through.
· The percentage achieved in terms of new starter creations was lower than the previous quarter. This was due to one team member moving from a Pensions Assistant role to a Pensions Officer role. This should now improve going forward.
· In relation to transfers, whilst being one of the lower priority areas, the team were hoping to put more resources into this area in the future.
· With regard to overdue cases, the Pensions Administration Team were continuing to work with one of the largest scheme employers and a third-party payroll provider where outstanding information was the reason for the majority of the overdue cases. Significant progress had been made with the one employer in particular and a lot of the outstanding information had now been received. Unfortunately, there had not been much success with the third-party payroll provider, despite working closely with them and holding regular meetings. Due to this, a decision had been made that from 1 April 2021, where monthly submissions of data were not received from this third party payroll provider, the team would liaise directly with the individual schools rather than the payroll provider.
· In addition to reporting and reviewing turnaround statistics, the Pensions Administration Team were also now reviewing the total open cases on a monthly basis to identify overdue cases and look at how to reduce these. Of the total overdue cases, 80% of these cases were classed as ‘external’ meaning the team were unable to proceed as a result of either waiting on information from an employer, scheme member or a third party. The remaining 20% of these overdue cases were waiting to be reviewed. These were reviewed by a Senior Pensions Officer on a monthly basis to see whether further action was needed.
· The report provided an update on the current projects being carried out by the team. Agreement for additional resource for the McCloud project had been given by Pension Fund Committee in light of the additional workload from the McCloud remedial action. The additional resource would consist of 1 Seniors Pensions Officer & 3 Pensions Officers, with agreement for an additional Pensions Officer as a result of a review of the current structure.
The following points were discussed as a result of questions/comments from members of the Board:
· The Board were advised that there was a cost associated with the extra resource required for the McCloud project, but the cost would be significantly higher if external companies were to be used instead to provide project support.
· It was confirmed that the additional posts being recruited to for the McCloud project were permanent positions. It may be that in the future more additional temporary resource would be required depending on how the workload progresses over time.
· With regard to employer contributions and whether these would need to be raised to cover the costs of McCloud, the Board were advised that employer contributions were set for this three-year period and that McCloud had been taken account of when these were set. In the future there might be an increase in employer contributions, but these figures were not known as of yet as it was not known how members’ salaries would progress.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.