The report of the Director, West Yorkshire Pension Fund (Document “A”) informs Members of the impact of COVID-19 on West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s (WYPF) pensions administration.
That the report be noted.
(Yunus Gajra – 01274 434343)
The report of the Director, West Yorkshire Pension Fund
(Document “A”) informed Members of the impact of COVID-19 on West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s (WYPF) pension’s administration.
It was explained that following the advice from Government on 23 March 2020 that everyone should stay at home the Fund’s business continuity plan had been put into operation to ensure that there was no disruption to service for the 400,000 members and that all pensions were paid.
WYPF had made the decision that staff were key workers and they were asked to attend work if they were unable to work from home. Negotiations with Bradford Council’s IT service had ensured that within a couple of weeks the majority of staff were working remotely.
Arrangements had been made to ensure that staff only occasionally had to visit the office and, for example, one person would do printing or other office based duties for their colleagues working from home.
The report revealed that, in line with The Pension Regulator’s advice, the focus of service delivery was on payment of benefits; employer contributions; minimising the risk of scams and supporting good decision making.
Payroll systems were tested to ensure they could be operated remotely and a decision was made that daily payments would be moved to a weekly payroll system. No issues appeared to have been experienced by beneficiaries.
Contact centre operators were fully briefed on current operations and were able to advise members accordingly.
It was explained that The Pension Regulator had extended the deadline for the receipt of Annual Benefit Statements and the Fund was confident that they would not breach that requirement.
A frequently asked questions sheet for LGPS administrators on COVID-19 had been prepared and was appended to the report for information.
Following a very detailed presentation it was questioned if being furloughed would be a detriment to members and would they lose contributions. In response it was explained that it had been stipulated that employees of Local Government, as a public body, would not furloughed. Other employees would receive their pensions based on the contributions of their employer. There had been some requests from employers to defer their payments but these had been very few.
It was questioned if, due to changes in investment markets, AVC valuations would be honoured. In response it was believed that valuations were not guaranteed for a specific time period but it was agreed to investigate and report back on that issue.
A Member questioned the long term implications of staff working from home and he was advised that a survey was being prepared to ascertain the thoughts and feelings of staff on their current working arrangements. As some presence was required in the office it was not believed that the level of remote working would be maintained in its totality, however, the benefits of working from home were acknowledged and it was believed that some element of remote working would be continued.
That the report be noted.
ACTION: Director, West Yorkshire Pension Fund