The report of the Director, West Yorkshire Pension Fund, (Document “B”) provides an update on West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s pensions administration activities over the last six months.
That the report be noted.
(Yunus Gajra – 01274 432343)
The report of the Director, West Yorkshire Pension Fund, (Document “B”) provided an update on West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s pensions administration activities over the last six months.
The initial part of the report provided details on performance and benchmarking and revealed that the majority of Key Performance Indicators had been met or exceeded. The rationale for three areas which had underperformed was explained and was due to increased work being required to prevent fraud and because of delays in receiving contact information from members.
Current work in progress was presented and was categorised in work groups. Membership figures were reported and revealed that the scheme had a total of 428,000 members and 466 participating employers.
New business received by the Fund was included in the report and revealed that WYPF had been awarded the contract to provide pensions administration for the London Borough of Barnet Pension Scheme. The Fund had also been successful in its bid for administration of the Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Fire Authorities.
Awards received by the Fund were discussed and included the Best Administration Award by Pensions Age magazine and the Pensions Administration Award at the European Pension Awards on 20 June 2020.
It was explained that as part of the commitment to improving services WYPF carried out random surveys of customers who had been in contact with the Fund together and online surveys which any member could complete at any time had been compiled. An analysis of the responses received for the quarter January to March 2020 were appended to the report.
The Chair noted the performance and benchmarking during the three-month lockdown period and staff were highly commended for their performance during the disaster recovery period. Congratulations were also provided for the awards which had been received and his sentiments were echoed by Members.
The report included an update on amendments to work practices during the current Coronavirus Pandemic and amendments to work practices to ensure staff were able to work remotely whilst maintaining business continuity were discussed. It was questioned what consideration had been given to employees returning to office based work practices and the potential impact on accommodation costs. The Director, WYPF, explained that, as the virus had not gone away, there would be no hurry for staff to return to office based work and the current situation wold be maintained until it was safe for staff to return. It was acknowledged that, in the coming months, flexibility may be required for for those staff who may find it difficult to return to the office.
The results of a recent staff survey had revealed that 70% of staff would like some form of working from home to continue. It was confirmed that performance had not been impacted by remote working arrangements.
In response to queries about the impact on accommodation costs it was reported that the need for additional accommodation to cater for the increased business had been considered but that the pressure had now subsided.
Members had previously heard that operational problems had occurred with the quality and timeliness of information from new business and it questioned if issues were anticipated with the four new contracts which were to start in November and December 2020. In response it was reported that no difficulties had arisen to date but it was felt that they could occur as some business had transferred due to poor quality of service previously received and that one scheme had been monitored by The Pension Regulator and had transferred to the fund due to the poor service they had received. The Fund’s IT team were working hard and had the resources allocated to the project and all so far was going to plan.
The numbers of days’ absence due to sickness was reported and compared to Bradford Council average. Members commended the statistics but questioned if any succession plans were in place for the six posts which were reported as vacant due to retirement. The number of external and internal appointments were also questioned. The Director, WYPF, reported that as part of the Fund’s development and training plans all staff were encouraged to develop and all training costs were funded. Statistics were provided which h revealed that staff turnover was 4% and 40% of personnel had been with WYPF for over 11 years.
As the average age of employees was 47, which Members felt that produced a ‘mature’ team compared to some organisations. Assurances were requested to ensure that careers pathways were in place to provide opportunities for junior staff to progress without affecting the quality of performance and it was hoped that the staff survey would provide the Fund with information to develop succession plans.
In response to questions about additional staff to undertake new business it was explained some staff may transfer with those businesses but that was felt unlikely due to distance. The Fund was currently undergoing a restructure which would strengthen governance and new business development and that would increase opportunities for staff development. Assurances were provided that staffing structures are reviewed regularly and strengthened when needed.
Following questions about the IT structure it was confirmed that the Fund used the IT infrastructure of Bradford Council for email; intranet and internet but other than that the fund was self-dependant. An internal UPM team, UPM was the application used for pensions administration, was in place and was very much ahead of the market. A programme had also been developed for the Annual Benefit Statements which allowed for the automatic issue of statements once the last month 12 returns were received and processed. There were many routines which had been developed some of which the software providers themselves had been unable to deliver for their clients.
That the report be noted.
ACTION: Director, West Yorkshire Pension Fund