Our two-day event opened with a meeting of the regional chairs of each regional fire pensions officers’ group, followed by our quarterly technical working group meeting. As I sure you can imagine there was a lot to discuss.
Updates from these meetings will be provided at your next regional group.
We would like to encourage that each Fire and Rescue Service and local pension boards are represented at these meetings, as well as the pension administrators. The discussions that are had are invaluable and it is a great opportunity to network, and informally discuss items that are ‘hot topics’ (no pun intended) in Firefighters’ Pensions and share regional experiences and training in a ‘safe space’.
We were pleased to welcome 44 delegates to the first day, which was aimed at Scheme Managers and Local Pension Board members, along with other parties interested in all things Governance.
Following a warm welcome from Joanne Livingstone, the Chair of the Firefighters’ Pensions (England) Scheme Advisory Board, who was accompanied by Claire Johnson, Senior Pensions Advisor, the audience heard from Chris Curry, Principal of the Pensions Dashboard Programme. Chris gave the audience an update with regards to the change in the dashboard connection deadline, what PDP is working on, and advised what FRAs should be doing in preparation.
Nick Gannon, TPR Policy Lead gave the audience a ‘sneaky peek’ of the Governance & Administration Survey results and how Fire and Rescue Services compared against other Public Sector Schemes. Nick highlighted the importance of providing accurate responses, so that they can be used to inform assistance that tPR can provide to the industry. Particularly when Schemes may need assistance in getting accurate data from employers.
Nick then gave an update on the General Code of Practice, and how this is in the process of being laid before parliament. Nick was able to demonstrate its functionality and how each section interacts with one another, where relevant.
Joanne Livingstone ended the session with an engaging discussion on the importance of Local Pension Board Effectiveness and how this integrated with the work of the Scheme Advisory Board. Joanne covered some interesting points and gave ‘food for thought’ for pension board members to take away.
The day finished with a drinks reception, which is always a great networking opportunity to catch up with new and old colleagues of the Fire Pensions Community.
Day two of the event was fully booked and saw 96 delegates across all areas of Firefighters’ Pensions attend Bevin Hall at 18 Smith Square.
Joanne Livingstone, Chair of the Firefighters’ Pensions (England) Scheme Advisory Board opened the event with a very warm welcome to all delegates and introduced and thanked our speakers for the day.
We then welcomed Alexander Waters, Senior Lawyer from the Pensions Ombudsman to the stage, where he gave a background to who the Pensions Ombudsman are and what they aim to achieve. He then provided an update on what they are currently seeing in relation to the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes and any relevant case studies.
Alexander also referred to some very useful resources that are available on their website, which are linked within their slides.
After a short refreshment break, the audience broke off into two workshops:
Matthews Second Options Exercise, which was led by Brian Allan, Actuary and Martin Agass, from the Government Actuary Department (GAD), and Claire Johnson from LGA. Brian gave an update on where they are on the development of the Matthews calculator. He also confirmed that there would be 2 implementation dates for the calculator, and that some cases won’t be able to be processed until the 2nd version is published.
More details of those cases are within GAD workshop slides.
Remedy: Communications which was led by colleagues from Aon, Virginia Burke and Ben Smithson, and Tara Atkins from LGA. The room was full, we even had to get more chairs!!!! It was a great workshop, and there was so much conversation about engaging and worthwhile communications.
Tara started off by giving an overview of what the workshop was all about and provided an update on what communication work the LGA had been working on and had in the pipeline for remedy.
Delegates then split into 3 groups and took 2 questions each about communications, before feeding back to the group. The feedback is available for all FRAs and administrators to view on the events page of the FPS Regulations and Guidance website.
We then broke for a well-earned lunch, where the audience networked, and had opportunity to talk and take with exhibitors and take some promotional ‘goodies’ from First Actuarial, ITM, XPS Pension Group and Isio.
First Actuarial - provide financial wellbeing services, which they offer to a range of organisations across the private and public sector. First Actuarial are also the actuarial advisors to the Firefighters’ Pensions (England) Scheme Advisory Board.
ITM - are pension data experts, providing specialist data management, systems and pension technology solutions within UK financial services.
XPS Pension Group: A leading consulting and administration business fully focused on UK pension schemes. XPS currently administer pensions for three fire clients.
Isio - is a leading independent UK provider of actuarial consulting, pensions administration, investment advisory, employee benefits and wealth management services.
Isio were promoting their new independent training sessions in relation to the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes. The sessions cover the McCloud/Sargeant age discrimination remedy, the Matthews exercise from 1 October 2023 and pensions tax for higher earners.
Before the Chair welcomed us back from lunch, Joanne had a very important job to do and chose a winner for First Actuarial’s champagne prize draw.
Once the Chair had welcomed us back, we heard from Brian Allan from GAD who gave an update on the 2020 valuation, including how the Scape Rate Discount will impact and expected timeline. Brian then covered the Cost Control Mechanism and observations from the HM Treasury 2020 valuation Directions.
Our very own Claire Johnson then took to the stage, with a very warm welcome having just returned from maternity leave, nothing like throwing her into the deep end!
Claire was tasked with giving a technical/legislative update on both Matthews and Remedy. Claire gave a summary of each remedy exercise, and then concentrated on the impact on a member if they are affected by both remedies.
This was followed by an update from Helen Fisher, Head of Police and Fire Pensions at the Home Office. Helen refrained from giving a further update on Matthews and Remedy, as she quite rightly said Claire had done an excellent job in her session.
Helen did however cover the Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) issue where it was identified that the Orders for 2021 and 2022 used provisional AWE growth estimates rather than revised AWE figures. The impact of this is that administrators will need to reassess the CARE benefits for these two years as the revaluation applied is incorrect. This in turn will impact the figures to be provided in the Remediable Service Statements.
Helen then covered the Carer’s Leave Act 2023, which will require an amendment to the Firefighters Pension Scheme regulations, in a similar way as was needed when parental bereavement leave came in.
For our final session of the day, we welcomed Aon to the stage, where Virginia Burke, Senior Public Sector Pensions Consultant and Ben Smithson, Senior Communications Consultant, held a great session and covered how you can make your communications work harder. Sadly Lauren Harper, who was also due to join them was unwell but had done a lot of work in the background towards their presentation.
It was an insightful session, which included rockets, pink elephants and neurotech. Take from that what you will, but the pictures taken below, show just how enthusiastic Ben is when talking about what is possible when looking to create a ‘great’ communication strategy.
Joanne Livingstone, then closed the meeting with her appreciation to all delegates who had engaged and made the two days a worthwhile and meaningful conference and wished everyone a safe trip home.
We would like to thank all for their participation and support, particularly our events team, speakers and exhibitors for contributing to the success of the event, and to all delegates who took time out of their busy schedules to attend.
The 25 and 26 October saw the long-awaited return of the annual fire pensions conference. In keeping with tradition, the two-day event opened with a meeting of the regional chairs of each fire pensions officer group, followed by the technical community.
We were delighted to welcome over to the first full conference session, aimed at scheme managers and Local Pension Boards, along with other parties with an interest in FPS governance. Following the Chair’s welcome, the audience heard from Colin Dobbie, Consultant Actuary at Isio, on how pension boards can support both scheme managers and members with the 2015 remedy.
Alison Murray, Partner from AON then took to the stage to inform the room on how they can prevent their FRAs falling foul of cyber risk and security.
Our final speaker was Nick Gannon, policy lead at The Pensions Regulator (TPR). Nick gave an informative presentation on the forthcoming single code of practice.
We ended the day with a networking drinks reception with lots of animated conversation between colleagues and friends.
The full technical/ administration AGM took place on day 2 with an attendance of around 80 delegates in our Bevin Hall conference room.
Joanne Livingstone, chair of the FPS (England) SAB, once again opened proceedings, outlining some of the challenges we have experienced over the last 12 months. We were then delighted to welcome Frances Clark, Deputy Head, Police Workforce & Professionalism Unit - Reward and Recognition, to provide a view from central government including progress updates on both the Matthews and age discrimination remedy.
We then welcomed to the stage Jane Marshall, Partner from Weightmans LLP, provided the ever-popular case law update, taking the audience on a whistle stop tour of recent Pensions Ombudsman decisions.
Following a short break, attendees were given the opportunity to join one of two technical workshops: Clair Alcock, Head of Police Pension at the NPCC, hosted the workshop on discretions which generated some interesting discussion as well as sharing of best practice. In Bevin Hall Jane Marshall facilitated the workshop on the Compensation Scheme covering areas under the regulations such as eligibility, qualifying injuries, injury awards and causation, which again created a productive workshop discussion.
Lunch followed and delegates once again had chance to network with colleagues as well as visiting exhibition stands hosted by the following organisations: Isio, Pen-gage and Perspective.
In the tough first afternoon slot, James Allen, an Actuary from First Actuarial LLP, provided the audience with an update on the 2020 valuation process. Mark Rowe, National Officer from the FBU, then took to the stage to give an informative member perspective view on the challenges and frustrations they currently face.
The final session of the day focused on Pensions Dashboards. The joint session was hosted by Richard James, Programme Director from the Pensions Dashboard Programme and Lucy Stone, Business Lead on Pension Dashboards from TPR.
Joanne Livingstone closed the conference for 2022 with a message of support for the challenges that the FPS community face over the next 12 months.
We would like to thank all for their participation and support, particularly our speakers and exhibitors for contributing to the success of the event, and to all delegates who took time out of their busy schedules to attend. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
We were delighted to offer our fire pensions annual conference in a virtual format this year. In long-standing tradition, the event was preceded by a meeting of the regional chairs, followed by the technical community, with both groups finding much to discuss.
Day 1 had a governance focus, and following a brief introduction from the new chair of the England Scheme Advisory Board, Joanne Livingstone, we were pleased to welcome Nick Gannon from TPR. Nick delivered an in-depth session on breaches of the law – considering the who, how, what, and when of recording and reporting. During the Q&A after the presentation, Nick highlighted the administrative challenges of implementing remedy and the importance of good data and communication.
Where we would normally enjoy informal networking with drinks on the roof terrace of Smith Square, the 55 delegates in virtual attendance were offered a “Night at the Oscars” with a film-themed quiz. Thank you for all those who participated in our just-for-fun entertainment!
We were back online for day 2 and the full technical/ administration AGM, with a full roster of guest speakers.
Joanne Livingstone welcomed approximately 100 delegates from across the FPS sector, with a more detailed introduction to herself and the role of the SAB. Joanne highlighted that the Board will seek to provide assurance rather than reassurance to stakeholders and continue to operate in a role of scrutiny and engagement on an evidence basis during her four-year term.
Senior pension adviser, Clair Alcock, then took to the “stage” to give an update from the Bluelight team at the LGA, on the different hats that we wear, and a reminder of the resources available to support FRAs and administrators. In an event dedicated to remedy, Clair was not afraid to address the elephant in the room and provided a brief recap on the background to the age-discrimination case and the HM Treasury consultation proposals. The session concluded with a quick look at projects on the horizon.
Des Prichard, chair of the SAB administration and benchmarking committee, led the last morning session with an update on the work of the committee. This included the committee's role, actions delivered, and actions still to come. In particular, the session focused on the draft template administration strategy and the future of scheme administration and management. Des was keen to promote the importance of replying to SAB-issued consultations and surveys in order for the Board to deliver improvements to the sector.
After a brief pause for refreshment, we welcomed guest speakers from Eversheds Sutherland and the Government Actuary’s Department, to provide our regular case law update and information about the FPS valuation and cost-cap, respectively. Both sessions provided definite food for thought and led us appropriately into a lunch break.
After which, Peter Spreadbury from the Home Office joined us to outline how the department intended to engage with stakeholders in dealing with remedy. Peter emphasised the importance of taking a professional, constructive, and forward-looking approach to working together and noted a commitment to working with stakeholders to reach a lasting resolution.
Delegates were then “zoomed” randomly into one of three breakout rooms to take part in an interactive workshop session. The workshops looked at themes underpinning the delivery of remedy, including technical issues, data, and communications. After a 45-minute discussion, participants returned to the main room to hear feedback from each of the sessions.
All that remained then was for Joanne to close another successful AGM and wish delegates a safe journey home!
As always, we would like to thank all presenters and delegates for their participation and support. We have received some great feedback from the event and hope that we will be able to host next year’s AGM live and in person in London. Roll on 2021!
In keeping with tradition, our annual fire pensions conference two day event opened with a meeting of the regional chairs of each fire pensions officer group, followed by the technical community. You can find out more about the work of each of these forums, along with the various other stakeholder groups involved with FPS administration, governance, and management in our new factsheet.
We were pleased to welcome over 60 delegates to the first full conference session, aimed at scheme managers and Local Pension Boards, along with other parties with an interest in FPS governance. Following the Chair’s welcome, the audience heard from Gavin Chambers, ACO and chair of Bedfordshire FRS LBP, on his experiences before participating in a lively debate on the efficiency of boards and challenges of assisting the scheme manager.
TPR then took to the stage to present the headline results from their 2018 Governance and Administration survey, including everyone’s favourite slide – “the spider diagram of doom”.
We ended the day with a networking drinks reception and although the weather was not quite as accommodating as last year, this didn’t seem to dampen the animated conversation between colleagues and friends.
The full technical/ administration AGM took place on day 2 with a record attendance of around 120 delegates in our Bevin Hall conference room at 18 Smith Square.
Malcolm Eastwood, chair of the FPS (England) SAB, once again opened proceedings, outlining some of the complexities in managing the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes. We were then delighted to welcome Amar Pannu, Head of Police and Firefighters’ Pensions at the Home Office, to provide a view from central government including updates on the transitional protections case and the 2020 scheme valuation.
Twelve months after launching the FPS administration and benchmarking review, Craig Payne from Aon was back on stage at the AGM to present a summary of the review outcomes and recommendations. Click the link to read the full and final Aon report.
Following a short break, attendees were given the option to join one of three technical workshops: National performance monitoring; Abatement; and Transitional pension calculations refresher. All workshops were well attended and received positive feedback. Thank you to our facilitators and those who participated. Lunch followed the short workshop feedback session, and delegates had chance to network with colleagues and visit exhibition stands hosted by the following organisations: Barnett Waddingham, Eversheds Sutherland, ITM, and Income for the Third Age.
We make a special apology here to Laura of Pen-gage https://www.pengage.co.uk/ and Mark from Income for the Third Age https://i3aguidance.co.uk/, as we somehow managed to lose a box of promotional leaflets which had been delivered in advance to the office.
In the tough first afternoon slot, Alec Bennett from Eversheds Sutherland provided the ever-popular case law update, taking the audience on a whistle stop tour of recent court and Pensions Ombudsman decisions. And the final session of the day was delivered by the Bluelight lead Clair Alcock, who gave an update on the work of the team and future plans.
Malcolm Eastwood closed the conference for 2019 with a fond farewell, as he retires as chair of the SAB in March 2020.
We would like to thank all for their participation and support, particularly our speakers and exhibitors for contributing to the success of the event, and to all delegates who took time out of their busy schedules to attend. We look forward to seeing you again next year – save the date 22-23 September 2020!
We were delighted to kick off our annual fire pensions conference with a meeting of the regional chairs to discuss the progress of the fire pensions officer groups around the country. All agreed that the forums are a great opportunity for colleagues from FRAs and administrators to get together and discuss relevant issues and common themes with their peers. If you are interested in attending your local group, please email [email protected].
The gathering of the regional chairs was closely followed by a meeting of technical group, attended by our technical community and many interested observers. Our capacity at the meeting was almost double the usual attendance, which is a testament to the popularity of the conference event.
An overwhelming 60 delegates were present for first official session of the conference – an update on issues relating to governance of the Firefighters’ Pension Schemes. Following the Chair’s introduction, we were pleased to welcome Rachel Watson from the Home Office to provide a view from central government. Attendees then heard from Tristan Ashby, chair of the Scheme Advisory Board’s Local Pension Board effectiveness committee, on the work of the committee, including a high level summary of recent governance survey results. Ian Howe of Leicestershire County Council gave a presentation on the work of the East Midlands FRAs in looking to form the first joint FPS local pension board, which was complemented by Sarah Mekins from North Yorkshire Police, discussing her experiences as chair of the largest joint Police LPB. The day ended with a networking drinks reception on the roof terrace at 18 Smith Square.
The full technical/ administration AGM took place on day 2 with a full house of around 100 delegates in our Bevin Hall conference room.
The AGM delivered a packed agenda. Malcolm Eastwood, chair of the FPS (England) SAB, again opened the day, giving a more in-depth update on the work of the Board and challenges ahead. This was followed by an engaging government panel session with representatives from the LGA, the Home Office, and the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). Andrew Hopkinson, in his role as national secretary to the Fire Leaders Association, then opened a discussion on public service pensions tax.
Following a short break, delegates received a fascinating update on relevant case law from colleagues at Eversheds Sutherland LLP. After which, attendees could select one of three technical workshops to join: Accurate Forecasting and the Top-Up Grant; Medical Appeals; or Combining Pension Scheme Service. All workshops were well attended and received unanimously positive feedback.
During lunch, delegates had opportunity to network with colleagues and visit the exhibition stands hosted by various suppliers and advisers to the pension scheme industry. Lunch was followed by a short feedback session from the workshop facilitators, and a welcome update on pensionable pay from Jane Marshall (Weightmans), legal advisor to the SAB. The final session of the day saw Aon launch the forthcoming FPS benchmarking exercise, outlining the intention, scope, and prospective timescales of the project. Watch this space for more information, coming soon.
Malcolm Eastwood closed the conference for 2018 with a reminder of the challenges which 2019 may bring, and thanked all for their participation and support. We echo these thanks, particularly to our speakers and exhibitors for contributing to the success of the event, and to all delegates who took time out of their busy schedules to attend. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
To view the full conference in pictures, visit our @LGAWorkforce twitter feed, #LGAfirepensions
Chair of the Scheme Advisory Board, Malcolm Eastwood, addresses the audience on day two of the event.
Please click the link to view the AGM 2017 slide presentations - days 1 and 2.
Following a successful two days at the first annual Firefighters' Pensions Conference, the slides are available below:
Day 1 10 October 2016 - pre-conference networking event
Thank you to our workshop leaders, who led three very successful workshops. The workshop presentations have now been published on our website:
Annual Benefit Statements - facilitated by Vicky Jenks, Shropshire Pension Fund (Chair of the Midlands Fire Pensions Officer Group)
Local Pension Board responsibilities - facilitated by Dan Kanaris, AON
Abatement and Protected Pension Age - facilitated by Cat Ellis and Wills Crump, Eversheds