UK - The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority is seeking a provider of pension and payroll services including administration of its pension schemes.

The five-year contract will entail providing IT software and services relating to the pension payroll, the employee payroll and pension administration.

The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority currently participates in three pension schemes, including the Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund for non-uniformed employees, which is administered by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead as part of the local government pension scheme (LGPS).

However, the fire authority also participates in two unfunded defined benefit (DB) schemes, the 1992 Firefighters Scheme - which closed to new recruits in April 2006 - and a new DB scheme for new recruits after April 2006, which has different contribution rates for both the employer and employees.

As the two schemes are both unfunded, no investment assets are being built up to pay for the liabilities, and instead cash will have to be generated as the pension payments fall due.

As a result, the firefighters pension scheme had built up liabilities of £176.6m (€223.8m) as of March 31 2007, while its share of liabilities in the LGPS scheme is £13m, which compared with available assets resulted in a deficit of £2.8m at the end of March 2007.

The fire authority confirmed the successful applicant will be chosen based on the most economically advantageous tender, and although the contract to provide the authority with the pension and payroll services will last five years, there is also the option of a further two-year extension.

Closing date for applications to tender for the contract is June 30 2008.

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