New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS), the occupational final salary scheme for airline British Airways (BA), has reappointed PwC UK as trustee for pension employer covenant advice.

PwC has advised the scheme for more than 15 years, through periods of geopolitical uncertainty, technological advancement and the recent pandemic, with a focus on the long-term horizon of the covenant as well as the affordability of its pension contributions, it was announced.

As part of the reappointment, PwC will continue to work alongside the NAPS executive team, providing employer covenant advice on changing regulation and landscape, including the new defined benefit (DB) funding code and wider ESG issues.

Vinny Ehzuvan, chief executive officer at BA Pensions, said: “The last valuation period was a period of considerable change for both the scheme and the sponsor, and we tremendously valued the support, advice and insight from PwC’s employer covenant team.”

Jonathon Land, head of PwC’s pensions employer covenant and restructuring practice at PwC, said: “The NAPS scheme was one of the first in the UK to start taking formal covenant advice, which is now standard in most UK pension schemes.”

He added that working with NAPS over the past 15 years “fantastic to be able to conclude the latest valuation in a positive place, with the scheme in a well funded position and the company recovering well after the effects of the pandemic”.

AEAT pension case highlights gaps in members’ complaints route

Members of the Atomic Energy Agency Technology (AEAT) pension scheme have not had the propert routes of appeal available when raising complaints about their pensions, according to the UK government’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In a report published on 14 June, PAC said this is another example of the difficulties people face when making decisions on complex or long-term financial products such as pensions, and the inadequacy of the support that government provides.

When AEAT was privatised in 1996, its 4,000 employees had the option to keep the pension benefits they had already accrued in the old public sector pension scheme, which is guaranteed by government, or to transfer them to the company’s new scheme.

Scheme members had reason to believe the new scheme would be similarly protected, and none of the information government provided indicated this was not the case.

Nearly 90% of them transferred their pensions and subsequently lost money after the company went into administration in 2012, largely because the compensation paid by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) does not reflect inflation rises.

Scheme members have raised complaints with government but have been “passed from pillar to post”, according to PAC, which added that the UK government had taken overall responsibility for the case.

“The Pensions Ombudsman has said it cannot investigate information given to members in 1996, while the issue is out of current scope for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,” PAC stated.

PAC stressed that in the current economic climate, it is essential that the government improves the oversight and support it provides to ensure that pension members can save adequately for retirement.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said: “In successive inquiries the PAC and other select committees have found a lack of oversight, joined-up thinking and strategy regarding pensions and pensions regulation. The government needs to take a long hard look at the lessons of this case and how it frames advice to people affected.” 

Cambridge University scheme picks Redington for advice

The Cambridge University Assistants’ Contributory Pension Scheme (CUACPS) has appointed Redington as a strategic investment adviser.

The scheme – an open defined benefit (DB) pension scheme – has aproximately £700m in assets and 13,900 members, consisting primarily of the university’s support staff as well as certain staff from other associated employers.

Redington’s contract is on a retained basis to support the fund’s investments committee in evolving its investment strategy to align with its ultra-long-term growth requirements.

The consultancy’s key responsibilities will be enhancing the scheme’s sustainability characteristics, with particular attention on the role the scheme can play in the climate transition as investors and responsible stewards of capital.

Michael Pratten, chair of the scheme’s investments committee, said: “Redington has already demonstrated its ability to tailor its approach to our needs. The strength of its team and depth of capabilities across both public and private markets – as well as in sustainable investment specifically – will no doubt prove invaluable as we evolve our strategy for our ambitious long-term growth objective.”

Tara Gillespie, head of global assets at Redington, welcomeed the scheme’s commitment to ESG principles that will “help to secure a more sustainable future for people and planet.”

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