73.1 The Board considered a report providing updates on Employer Engagement activities including the i-Connect project, communications, and the collection of Employer contributions.
73.2 TD asked if the issues BHCC had with i-Connect had been resolved.
73.3 Tim Hillman (TH), Pensions Manager - Employer Engagement, responded that there are ongoing conversations with BHCC to resolve the issues and the BHCC payroll provider has built a template for the data transfer using i-Connect. There is still some work to be done to resolve some end of year queries so that a member match can be run between the BHCC payroll and ESPF pension administration system to identify any discrepancies.
73.4 The Chair noted that the team had created some Fund specific specifications for i-Connect and asked if this would mean the team would have to go back and repeat work with employers who were already using i-Connect.
73.5 TH responded that the work on specifications related mainly to how different payroll systems treat employees with more than one role (e.g. by creating more than one personal identification number for an employee, when i-Connect may only recognise one). This has now been resolved and will not impact existing i-Connect users.
73.6 TI asked if the team are on track to rollout and onboard all employers onto the i-Connect system.
73.7 TH responded that the original target was to complete the project by the end of March 2022. This has been delayed by the need to produce the Fund specific specifications and time has been taken to speak to other local authorities using i-Connect to cover any other issues that might be encountered with the implementation. It was important to get the process right and have the capacity in the team and the Pension Administration Team (PAT) to carry out the necessary work. Consequently, the target is now the end of December 2022 to have all employers using i-Connect. Paul Punter (PP) Head of Pension Administration added that most pension funds only get a number of the larger employers to use i-Connect whereas the ESPF is aiming to get all employers to use it, so the scale of the work is different.
73.8 TH introduced the new Pensions Communications Manager, Paul Lindfield (PL), to the Board. PL will take over chairing of the Communications Working Group. PL outlined that the website will be the focus for communication with members and he is exploring a number things such as making sure the information is accessible, explaining what the Fund is doing for members and member surveys. It is hoped the website will fill the gap in communication with members identified by the Board.
73.9 LW welcomed the appointment of the Pensions Communications Manager and outlined her interest in making sure members get the information they are looking for or are interested in. LW offered to forward a summary of the types of questions and requests she receives from members.
73.10 TH outlined the work being undertaken on employer contributions. He reported that there did not appear to be one single cause behind late payments and the team is using regular reminders and issuing administration charges to persistent late payers to tackle late payments. The Board noted the good progress that is being made on this issue.
73.11 The Board RESOLVED to note the report.