Barnet UNISON Update: Yes it’s Capita and Yes it’s another Pensions Fail.  

 

“The Pensions Regulator has issued a draft improvement notice to the London Borough of Barnet to tackle deficiencies in the pension fund’s administration processes and controls.”

“Meanwhile, a recent internal audit report has identified a number of “high risk-rated issues” in relation to the scheme’s administration, which is outsourced to Capita.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/TPR-still-unhappy-with-pensions-admin-at-Barnet

The above are extracts from an article by Pensions Expert Sophia Imeson | July 15, 2019 “TPR still unhappy with pensions admin at Barnet”.

“It’s becoming a full-time job just keeping track of the relentless number of issues arising from poor performance of the Capita Pension Administration service. The question our members keep asking is “how many times does Capita have to fail before the service is taken off Capita and brought back in-house?” Whilst Barnet UNISON I welcomes the news that the Leader of Barnet Council wants to “get things right” where Barnet UNISON differs is why the reluctance to simply end the contract? Barnet UNISON has sat in too many committee meetings where councillors have heard the following: “Capita has put together a plan.”

It is too late for any plan. It is patently obvious there are some pretty fundamental problems with the Capita Pensions Administration Service which is why in July 2019 “internal audit report has recently flagged up a “limited assurance” level for the scheme’s design and effectiveness of controls in place.”

The latest news is that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued a draft improvement notice to Barnet Council should be the final straw.

What should Barnet Council do next?

Barnet Council needs to seriously think about what it does next. The reason Barnet UNISON says this is because to run an efficient Pension Administration Service you need to ensure the HR and Payroll are working effectively as this can also have a serious impact on Pension Administration.

The problem Barnet UNISON can see is the Council knee jerk reaction due to understandable pressure to act could end in the Council simply moving to another HR provider.

This act fails to assess the impact of Payroll issues on Pensions Administration service.

For some reason, when Capita bid to take over our services in 2012, they proposed to split the in-house Payroll service by running payroll services out of Belfast and Carlisle.

It would be an understatement to say that there have been issues with Payroll.

If Barnet Council simply switch provider, fast forward six months’ time and councillors could be sitting in a committee meeting listening to LBB HR, Capita (Payroll) and Pensions (new provider) all arguing who is responsible for service issues.

Barnet UNISON has consistently taken the same approach to these endemic failures.

Barnet Council needs to bring back and rebuild the Payroll and Pension Administration services to work alongside the recently returned HR service.

Only then does Barnet UNISON believe that the Pension Administration service can return to the high standards it provided before the outsourcing to Capita”

End.

Background reading of previous reports on Capita Pensions in Barnet

  1. TPR still unhappy with pensions admin at Barnet

By Sophia Imeson | July 15, 2019

“The Pensions Regulator has issued a draft improvement notice to the London Borough of Barnet to tackle deficiencies in the pension fund’s administration processes and controls…..”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/TPR-still-unhappy-with-pensions-admin-at-Barnet

  1. Light at end of tunnel in Barnet admin fiasco

By Stephanie Hawthorne | May 23, 2019

“The problem was once so serious that Hymans Robertson, the actuary to the scheme, was commissioned by Barnet council to investigate the quality of the pensions data, and it was feared that inaccuracies could lead to a delay carrying out the triennial valuation later this year.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Light-at-end-of-tunnel-in-Barnet-admin-fiasco

  1. Ongoing data problems spark valuation concerns at Barnet

Sophia Imeson | March 28, 2019

“In 2017, the Pensions Regulator said it had fined the Local Government Pension Scheme fund £1,000 for failing to submit its 2016 scheme return on time.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Ongoing-data-problems-spark-valuation-concerns-at-Barnet?ct=true

  1. Barnet in TPR breach as Capita misses payments

Alex Janiaud | October 22, 2018

“The London Borough of Barnet Council has reported itself to the Pensions Regulator after failing to produce 447 pension benefit statements on time.”

“A spokesperson for the regulator confirmed that it was “in contact with those responsible for the governance and administration of the scheme”.

The spokesperson said: “We expect all those responsible for the governance and administration of a scheme to ensure appropriate internal controls are in place to ensure that non-compliant employers fulfil their responsibilities to that scheme.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Barnet-in-TPR-breach-as-Capita-misses-payments

Call out in solidarity for local democracy in Barnet 30 July 2019

On Tuesday 30 July 2019, 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, Barnet Council will vote on a proposal that in will restrict Barnet residents’ ability to ask questions and speak at future Council Committee meetings.

The London Borough of Barnet has a wealth of community activism which includes Barnet Bloggers (Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Barnet Eye) and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to name just a few.

Their contributions over the last decade have largely been supportive of the services our members provide.

However, their contribution to future committees will virtually cease if the proposed rule change is passed at Full Council on 30 July 2019.

Barnet residents have responded by setting up a petition entitled “Stop Barnet Council From Gagging Residents”

You and read and sign in solidarity by clicking on this link here

https://t.co/P7sb0e3KNU?amp=1

Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.

Trying to make sense of easyCouncil and Capita?????

Barnet Council entered into two large outsourcing contracts with Capita in 2013. Six years later there has been a serious fraud and the services are not up to standard.

Who is saying this?

The Council both the staff who use Capita services and the staff that commission Capita services.

A year ago the Council announced a large number of services were to be brought back in-house yet a year on only a few have made it across the line.

On Monday 17 June 2019, Barnet Council gave Capita the thumbs up for both contracts.

You can read more about the Capita contracts here on the Barnet UNISON website

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/

TBG Flex Pension Scheme query submitted to the Pensions Regulator

Image result for tbg flex

Barnet UNISON have submitted a query to the Pensions Regulator in regard to TBG Flex Pension Scheme :

 

Query: Is this employer’s pension scheme compliant with regulations?

 

Further to my conversation with James Marshall and as agreed I am writing to provide the relevant information for The Pensions Regulator to decide whether the Pension Scheme operated by the employer (TBG Flex Ltd.) meeting the intention of Parliament under Automatic Enrolment legislation.

 

The Company

TBG Flex Ltd (set up as an employment company in 2017 to avoid new staff being able to join the Local Government Pension Scheme) is a subsidiary of The Barnet Group which was set up in 2006 as separate entity to provide Housing and Care Services for the London Borough of Barnet.

 

Automatic Enrolment

Automatic enrolment commenced for staff employed by TBG Flex Ltd at the company’s inception in 2017. [Please see  TBG Flex Pensions April 2019.]

 

Staff Benefit

All TBG Flex staff receive employee benefit (called Flex Benefit) of 5% or 10% (depending on grade) of salary are paid to staff in addition to salary. The Flex Benefit can be used by staff to top up store cards, purchase dental care insurance, dining card etc. and allows the employer TBG Flex Ltd to pay employer’s contribution in respect of staff participation in Automatic Enrolment.[Please Introduction to Flex Benefit September 2018 and TBG Flex Employees Benefit 2019.]

 

Effect of Automatic Enrolment under Flex Benefit

For staff choosing to join the TBG Flex pension scheme have to sacrifice their Flex Benefit because the employer TBG Flex Ltd pays the employers contribution from the Flex Benefit “earned” by staff. This policy of meeting the employer’s pension contribution from Flex Benefit incentivises staff not to join the pension scheme in the first place and incentivises those staff in the pension scheme to leave.

 

Discrimination

The staff in the pension scheme under Automatic Enrolment enjoy lower Flex Benefit compared to their colleagues on the same salary grade who decide to opt out of Automatic Enrolment.

 

Concerns

I am concerned that this employer’s Auto Enrolment Pension Scheme is not meeting the intention of Parliament in that employer pays employer’s statutory contribution from the Flex Benefit accrued to these staff. Further it incentivises staff not to join the pension scheme in the first place and incentivises those staff in the pension scheme to leave. Finally, staff in the pension scheme are discriminated as these staff participating in Automatic Enrolment enjoy lower Flex Benefit compared to their colleagues on the same salary grade who decide to opt out of Automatic Enrolment.

 

The query has been acknowledge awaiting further investigation.

TBG Flex members with issues or complaints about the Flex Benefits reward system please write to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk