UK local authority pension funds have been “strongly urged” to suspend or amend any policies they have on reducing pensions for retirees returning to work to help deliver vital services to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of those returning to work would be ex-social workers in receipt of a local government pension scheme (LGPS) pension, wrote Councillor Roger Phillips, chair of the advisory board for the scheme in England and Wales, in a letter to the chairs of LGPS pension committees last week.
Jeff Houston, secretary to the LGPS advisory board, told IPE that, based on a quick survey, roughly one-third of LGPS funds have some form of abatement policy.
According to the BBC, more than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses in England and Wales are being asked to return to work in the National Health Service (NHS) to help boost frontline services.
In contrast to the LGPS, abatement policies are not discretionary in the NHS pension scheme, and so the government’s coronavirus legislation includes provisions to suspend rules on abatements and drawn-down of NHS pensions applying to certain retirees who return to work.
“No doubt pragmatic ways will be found to ensure that communities benefit at the earliest opportunity from the skills and experiences of former public sector professionals”
Gerard Moore, chair of the pension board for the Powys pension fund
Gerard Moore, chair of the pension board for the Powys pension fund in Wales, said that for those LGPS funds that do abate, the most challenging aspect could be how quickly a decision review could take place, as many councils had cancelled committee meetings.
“Usually, in such cirumstances, delegation to the section 151 officer, probably in consultation with the committee chair and vice chair, is permitted.
“No doubt pragmatic ways will be found to ensure that communities benefit at the earliest opportunity from the skills and experiences of former public sector professionals.”