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UK roundup: Government Actuary Department, Ortec, Unite, Visteon

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  • UK roundup: Government Actuary Department, Ortec, Unite, Visteon

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UK - The Government Actuary's Department (GAD) has appointed Ortec Finance to provide risk management solutions for its investment and risk team.

GAD will soon begin using the group's pensions asset liability management (PALM) solution, allowing the internal investment team to better manage assets.

Colin Wilson, head of investment and risk at GAD, said: "Ortec Finance boasts an excellent pedigree, having already proven its approach and technology in many countries across the globe, and we are confident the Ortec Finance team will help us to meet the challenges facing funded UK pension schemes."

In other news, the UK's largest union Unite has launched a lawsuit against automobile manufacturer Ford, hoping the company will be forced to pay compensation for what the union called misleading pension advice.

Unite filed the suit, first threatened last summer, at the High Court following the 2009 collapse of Visteon UK, a supply group sold by Ford in 2000.

Ford employees were given the chance to transfer all accrued pension savings from the company's scheme into the Visteon UK pension fund, with the union insisting that guarantees were made that all benefits would be secure.

However, when Visteon went into administration two years ago with a £350m pension deficit, members instead had to contend with the maximum payment offered by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Roger Maddison, Unite's national officer, said: "Unite believes Ford has a legal and moral obligation to the thousands of ex employees who paid into its pension scheme all their working lives believing this would provide a financially secure pension in retirement.

"Ford misled many of these workers, leading them to believe their pensions were safe with Visteon."

Maddison said Ford failed to clearly set out the risks associated with any asset transfers.

Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions has launched a review of the existing defined contribution regulatory framework, with the aim of guaranteeing employee saving rates as auto-enrolment comes into effect.

Specifically, the review will examine the difference between trust-based occupational schemes and contract-based arrangements and the potential problems posed by refunds if scheme members change employers in under two years.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said it was important to ensure the regulatory differences did not result in workers failing to save for retirement.

"The use of short service refund rules is an area where we will take action if it appears the rules risk the success of the workplace pension reforms," he added.

Under current legislation, trust-based scheme members can request a refund of contributions if they change employers less than two years after enrolling, while employers are able to use its contributions to offset any future payments needed for other workers.

The consultation is open until April.

Finally, the £950m Shropshire County Pension Fund has appointed Aon Hewitt as investment adviser.

The consultancy, which will advise on managerial appointments as well as strategic asset allocation, was well-placed to support the fund at a time when local government pension schemes were faced with a number of changes, said Graham Chidlow, head of finance at Shropshire Council.

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