Local government pension scheme
The latest offer on LGPS in England and Wales
After a long period of consultation, an agreement has been reached between trade unions and the government over changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) in England and Wales.
This agreement has now been overwhelmingly backed by ATL members who gave their views in an online poll.
Of the members who expressed an opinion, 76% ATL members in the scheme supported the offer.
The final offer comes after a long period of consultation between the three negotiating unions (Unison, GMB and Unite) and the government. Although not recognised for formal talks, ATL kept a close eye on the progress of the negotiations.
The latest offer applies mainly to ATL members working as support staff, Soulbury-paid staff and some AMiE college members in England and Wales.
Information here does not apply to Scotland as there are no plans, currently, to alter the scheme there.
In Northern Ireland, NILGOSC – the body which administers LGPS (NI) – has recommended that a similar approach as in England and Wales is taken to redesigning the scheme, and the Northern Ireland Executive has accepted that it has to make savings to all public sector pension schemes. The Department of the Environment, which makes the regulations for the LGPS (NI), has yet to set out any details of changes to the scheme or increases to employees' contribution rates.
Background to current LGPS
The Local Government Pension Scheme is one of the largest public sector pension schemes in the UK, with around 3.5 million members.
Employers in the scheme include local authorities and public service organisations as well as other employers that provide the LGPS for their employees by becoming admitted bodies.
The scheme is administered for participating employers locally through 99 regional pension funds. Your first port of call for most enquiries should usually be your fund's administrator: contact details can be found on the LGPS website.
LGPS and the Teachers' Pension Scheme
The LGPS is a guaranteed, final salary scheme, offering a very high level of benefits. A significant number of members have service within the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) and LGPS throughout their careers and often transfer periods of deferred service in one across to the other.
If you are considering doing this, you must initiate the transfer within one year of joining the scheme you wish to transfer into. If you have had a number of jobs under the LGPS and are still a member of the scheme, these will each have separate records unless you have chosen to bring them all together.
When you tell your current scheme that you wish to consider a transfer, the administrator will request a transfer value from your previous scheme and will calculate the amount of service this will buy you in your current scheme. You will not always see a direct correlation of years and days' service from one scheme to another, as the benefits each scheme provides differ and so are valued differently.
It will be for you to decide if you wish to proceed with the transfer. You will need to consider the rules of the previous and new schemes, such as Normal Retirement Age and tax-free cash arrangements.
Please note that in Scotland, your application for a transfer into the Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme automatically means that you wish it to take place. Please see ATL's factsheet Improving your pension prospects for further information.
Retention of NPA 60 for some TUPE Transferees
From 1 January 2007, any new entrant who does not have service in the TPS prior to 1 January 2007 or in a comparable Teachers' Scheme in Scotland or Northern Ireland will have a NPA of 65. From 1 January 2008, a person with retained service in TPS who has a relevant break of more than 5 years will have an NPA of 65 for future service whilst maintaining an NPA of 60 in respect of existing service.
For avoidance of doubt under the changes introduced from 1 April 2008 but with an effective date of 1 January 2007, individuals in another public service pension scheme with an NPA of 60 whose contract is transferred involuntarily (TUPE) into employment covered by the TPS will now retain an NPA of 60 in the TPS.
These arrangements will not apply in transfers from the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) where the NPA is already 65, even where the member satisfies the "rule of 85"; this is taken into account within the transfer arrangements whereby service credit adjustments can be made.
Need more help on pensions?
For further information or for specific advice on pensions issues, please contact the pensions team at ATL's London office. The telephone number for pensions enquiries only is 020 7782 1600. Please ensure that you have your membership number and relevant papers to hand when contacting ATL.
Planning for your retirement involves many important and sometimes complex decisions. Endsleigh has been appointed by ATL as the preferred provider of financial advice, should you wish to seek this. Please visit their website or call 0800 917 8875 for more details. Telephone lines are open Monday – Thursday 9am – 8pm and Friday 9am – 5pm. Retirement planning DVDs and seminars are available upon request.