COVID-19 news and information
> Further Treasury Direction and updated guidance regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
> FAQs for LGPS administrators updated
We have updated the COVID-19 administrator FAQs to reflect the revised TPR guidance published on 16 June 2020 and the Government's changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). In particular, we have amended the questions on whether employers can reclaim pension contributions from the CJRS, whether LGPS authorities can suspend CETV payments, what approach TPR will take to breaches and whether there will be any relaxation of the annual benefit statement deadline. We have also added a question on members being able to contact the scheme.
> FAQs for LGPS employers updated
We have updated the COVID-19 employer FAQs to reflect the revised TPR guidance published on 16 June 2020 and the Government's changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). In particular, we have amended the questions on whether employers can reclaim pension contributions from the CJRS and whether there will be any relaxation on the annual benefit statement deadline.
>Transfer warning letter adapted for the LGPS
TPR's guidance on communicating to members during COVID-19 includes a request for pension managers to issue a transfer warning letter to members applying for a CETV quote. The original letter, jointly prepared by TPR, FCA and MaPS contains references to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and is not suitable for use by the LGPS. An adapted version of the letter is now available for use by LGPS administering authorities. TPR has asked that the letter is issued to all members requesting a CETV quote to a DC scheme for the foreseeable future.
TPR has also asked that pension managers actively monitor the number of requests for CETV quotes and which advisers are supporting the members’ requests. If any unusual or concerning patterns emerge, such as spikes in CETV requests or the same adviser across a multitude of requests, LGPS administering authorities should email the FCA.
> Webinar slides: COVID-19 for LGPS employers
We have completed a series of webinars for LGPS employers on the impact of COVID-19. Following requests from administering authority staff who attended, you can now view the webinar slides.
> FAQs for LGPS employers updated
We have updated the COVID-19 employer FAQs based on questions and feedback from our recent webinars. The FAQs are designed to help employers understand pension issues that may arise during the pandemic.
> Webinar recording: COVID-19 for LGPS employers
We have recently completed a series of webinars for LGPS employers covering the pensions issues that they may need to consider during the pandemic. We have made a recording of the webinar available online.
> Governance survey results published
The Scheme Advisory Board have published the results of the LGPS COVID-19 Governance survey on the Board website. The survey ran from 1 to 15 May.
> FAQs for LGPS administrators updated
The question on the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme (England) has been updated now that further information on the scheme is available. Also, a question has been added to clarify the position on the coronavirus life assurance schemes in Scotland and Wales.
> NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance scheme (England)- details published
The Scheme Advisory Board have compiled a summary of the main aspects of the scheme. The summary is available on the COVID-19 page on the SAB website and includes links to further information and the rules of the scheme.
> LGA webinar: The impact of COVID-19 for LGPS employers
The LGA is running webinars covering the impact of COVID-19 on LGPS employers. The webinars that took place on Friday 15 May and Tuesday 19 May were fully booked. Please use the link below to register for the 30-minute webinar on 26 May and we will send you details of how to join.
3pm Tuesday 26 May 2020 [email protected]. Please include 26 May 2020 as the Subject of your email.
> Treasury Direction in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
HM Treasury have issued a Treasury Direction in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The Direction sets out the legal framework for the Scheme which is due to go live on 20 April 2020. The Direction should be read in conjunction with the updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
> TPR publish COVID-19 guidance for employers
The Pensions Regulator has issued guidance for employers on automatic enrolment, maintaining pension contributions and the coronavirus job retention scheme.TPR will be adding to this guidance this week (beginning 14 April), so please check their website for further updates.
> Regulations extend accounting deadlines
Coming into force on 30 April 2020, the Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus)(Amendment) Regulations 2020 extend the publication date for local authority audited accounts to 30 November 2020, with the public inspection period now starting on the first working day of September 2020. To accompany the regulations the Government has also produced an explanatory note.
At present there are no plans for an automatic extension of the publication date for LGPS fund report and accounts however MHCLG have requested that you inform us of any 'knock on' issues arising from these regulations to enable them to keep the matter under consideration.
> Regulations on virtual meetings published
On 3 April 2020, the Scheme Advisory Board updated their website to confirm that the regulations enabling councils to hold electronic and digital meetings using virtual locations such as internet locations, web addresses or conference call telephone numbers would come into force on 4 April 2020. See the Scheme Advisory Board's coronavirus webpage for a link to the regulations.
> TPR publish guidance on reporting duties and enforcement activity during COVID-19 pandemic
TPR have issued guidance on reporting duties and enforcement activity confirming that they can adopt a more flexible approach to what they expect to reported in a number of areas and when enforcement action would be appropriate under the current circumstances. These easements will remain until 30 June 2020. Their website also confirms that they will review whether more specific flexibilities or restrictions are required during the following weeks - and whether the date should be extended.
> LGPS Resilience survey
We have published the results of the LGPS COVID-19 resilience survey. Nearly 80% of administering authorities in England & Wales and Scotland completed the survey between 24 March and 6 April 2020. The results show a high level of confidence in the ability to continue to pay more than 1.5 million LGPS pensions. Responses show that a minority of employers are in current difficulties and that there are some concerns about accessing the information required to pay new benefits.
It is to the credit of those authorities that they not only responded so promptly to the survey, but are able to respond so effectively to the challenges they face at the current time. The survey also asked for ideas for additions to the administrator FAQs. Those suggestions that are not already present are under active review. All points raised about regulatory flexibility have been raised with MHCLG and/or TPR.
> TPR guidance for public sector scheme administrators
The Pensions Regulator has produced Scheme administration: COVID-19 guidance for trustees and public service to assist public sector administrators in determining the critical processes to be delivered at this time.
> FAQs for LGPS administrators
We have published the first batch of coronavirus FAQs for LGPS administrators. We will update the FAQs page with any new developments.
> TPR guidance on COVID-19
The Pensions Regulator has produced guidance for trustees, employers and their advisers to assist those facing difficult decisions and circumstances because of the coronavirus pandemic.
> FAQs for Scheme members
Coronavirus FAQs for Scheme members is available to view on the guides and sample document page.
Each administering authority will need to update the highlighted sections of the document with their own details / information. We would like to thank the Communications Working Group for putting the FAQs together. The FAQs will shortly be uploaded to the new ‘latest news’ section of the member website for England Wales.
> PASA issue COVID-19 guidance for administrators
PASA have today issued guidance for administrators which sets out priorities together with the basic and high level enablers to achieve them. Although the guidance is not specifically aimed at the LGPS, much of the content will be applicable.
> March bulletin delayed
We are currently working on COVID-19 guidance and FAQs for administrators in addition to FAQs for members. As a result, the monthly bulletin (March) will be delayed - we aim to issue it next week.
In the meantime, we ask that all administering authorities complete the online survey to inform us about the issues you would like us to cover in the guidance.
> LGA issue Covid-19 message and online survey to pension managers
Today all pension managers were sent a message from the LGA about minimum levels of service provision and the measures that we are taking to support administering authorities in these uncertain times.
We ask that all administering authorities feedback, via an online survey, issues in terms of resources, the ability to process data, the situation of scheme employers together with any local challenges to service provision. This will enable us to raise the awareness with Government, seek the clarification needed and to issue necessary guidance and advice.
> Re-employment of key workers
The Chair of the Scheme Advisory Board, Councillor Roger Phillips, has today sent a letter to the chairs of LGPS pension committees regarding the discretionary abatement of pensions for staff who will be returning to assist in the delivery of vital services.
Letter from Councillor Phillips - re-employment of key workers.