Report to:

Pension Committee

Date of meeting:

16 November 2023


Chief Finance Officer


Pension Administration - updates


To provide an update to the Pension Committee on matters relating to Pensions Administration activities.



The Committee is recommended to note the report.     


1.         Background


1.1       The in-house Pensions Administration Team (PAT) carries out the operational, day-to-day tasks on behalf of the members and employers of the East Sussex Pension Fund (the Fund, ESPF) and for the Administering Authority. They also lead on topical administration activities, projects and improvements that may have an impact on members of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).


2.         Key Performance Indicators (KPI)


2.1       The Performance Report, for the period October 2022 to September 2023 can be found at Appendix 1. The PAT saw performance numbers during quarter three 2023, average at 88.08% (volume completed 3,854) which were, as predicted, lower to the previous quarter (94.67% with a volume of 3,515).    

The lower than normal performance was caused by a number of issues:
- A knock-on result of the impact of assessing & completing some the large volumes of BHCC 2022/23 member movements received in late August 23.
- A backlog of transfers was also created by the Government Actuaries Department (GAD) freeze due to the Actuarial Factors review.
- Focus on i-Connect onboarding leading to production of Annual Benefit Statements
- Data cleansing
- Printing and Postage services transfer to the postal hub

- Development of the next day transfer task

- Some PAT resources had been redirected to focus on completing projects such as the historical Annual Allowance, Deferred member address tracing & mortality exercise, plus the process reviews & robotics. 

Looking at the position in early October, it is expected that performance will remain lower than expected for the next few months.


2.2       The Fund has a gold standard service provision for the Pensions Helpdesk and the results are included in Appendix 2. The Helpdesk is currently supported by Surrey County Council; however, this service will cease in March 2024. The ESPF Pensions Helpdesk service will be brought in-house on 1 April 2024. A project is underway to ensure a smooth transfer for this service, with staff TUPE transferring to ESCC, where applicable.



3.         Pension Administration Staffing Update


3.1       Two new Pensions Pension Administration Apprentices started in November alongside a short-term temporary resource to support the backlog. One permanent Pension Administrator position vacancy remains.     


4.         Projects update


4.1       Annual Benefits Statements – 2023
The Fund reported the number of ABS issued as at the statutory deadline at the meeting on 19 September 2023. Some resulting queries continue to remain outstanding; the Fund are making good progress with the production of the ABS beyond the statutory date with the outstanding 957 queries down to 545 as at 30 September 2023. The records retained by BHCC cover a range of statuses; data for 167 active members was provided in early October 23.

4.2       Guaranteed Minimum Pension – Reconciliation & Rectification         

The data was provided to Mercers to recommence the project in May 2023 and their project plan provided on 18 September 2023 suggests it should be completed by February 2024. An update was shared with the Admin Working group on 26 October 2023 where some key rectification questions were discussed.


4.3       Annual Allowance (AA) 2022/23

The statutory deadline from the production of Pension Saving statements was 6 October 2023. This is the first year in three that the Fund had the opportunity to complete the project in a timely manner. The Fund identified 116 members as in scope for a detailed review, calculation and possibly a letter if over the £40k, whether or not if tax is due. The number was lower than usual as the Government elected to exclude the 10.1% CPI increase this year.

All calculations were completed, and letters issued where appropriate except for:

(a)  2 complex cases with club tv-in’s that require bespoke letters.

(b)  5 members where we have not received the data from the employers.

4.4       Member Self Service (MSS)
MSS is a portal used by members to help members keep track of their ESPF pension. Members can view ABS, update personal info, update nomination forms, and use a range of benefit projectors. The portal is being replaced with an improved portal called Transformational Member Experience (TME). Officers had a pre meeting with Heywood, the software provider, on 26 September 2023 to discuss:

·         A run through / short demo of TME

·         Branding, style & images/icons

·         A proposed plan including timescale – test system by Jan 2024 and live system by March 2024

·         System parity (by June 24)

·         What is needed from the Customer – PID, implementation & technical study

·         Communication plans

·         Roll-out by phasing

·         Training

·         Next steps / timings


4.5       Additional Contributions

A report is due to Board and Committee on money purchase or defined contribution Prudential AVC arrangements. At the previous meeting the Board Chair requested some data in respect of the alternative options available within the scheme.

The following table shows the number of contracts that have been created by members:


Type of top-up contribution

Period available


Added Years

1975 – 2008


Additional Retirement Contributions

2008 - 2014


Additional Pension Contributions

2014 to present


Additional Voluntary Contributions

Total no.


Note: Members will only appear once in each row (using the earliest start date) but could have multiple types of contracts therefore appear in more than one row. Therefore, it is not 7,830 members who at some point in time have topped up their benefits. These numbers also pick up members whether they have topped up as either a one-off or regular contribution. The current number of Pru AVC members is 1,375.


4.6       50/50 section membership

The scheme changed in 2014 from a final salary scheme to a career average revalued earnings (CARE) scheme. For each year in the CARE scheme, members will accrue a 1/49th of their pensionable pay. This is then revalued each subsequent year in line with inflation. One of the benefit design changes introduced by the LGPS at that time was the introduction of the 50/50 section. This allowed and encouraged any existing or new members in short term financial hardship to be in the scheme by paying 50% less in contributions resulting in an accrual rate of 1/98th for the pension during the period in this section. Each time an employer is on their triennial auto-enrolment date these members will be put back into the main section. This does not stop them opting to revert back to the 50/50 section. The section has also used by some senior officers to lessen the impact of the Lifetime Allowance. Whilst in the 50/50 section the employer still pays the full contributions and the member would still receive full death in service and incapacity retirement cover. The numbers who have used this category are as follows:

Year Election made

Number of members





















Note: There have been 656 opt outs of the main section into the 50/50 section, but some will be multiple re-entries. There are currently 217 members in the 50/50 section.  



5          Conclusion and reasons for recommendation


5.1       The Pension Committee is asked to note the report.


Chief Finance Officer

Contact Officer:                      Paul Punter, Head of Pensions Administration