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SECTION 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GUIDE

 

1.1                   About this guide

1.2                   About SPPA

1.3                   SPPA: aims objectives and responsibilities

1.4                   About the National Health Service Superannuation (Scotland) Scheme

1.5                   Employer responsibilities

1.6                   Financial advice, Data Protection and Freedom of Information

1.7                   Third party information and disputes

1.8                   Complaints procedure

 

 

 

1.1       About this guide

SPPA hope that you will find this guide instructive and simple to use. With that in mind, we have tried to make both finding the information that you want and navigation as simple as possible. Each section is aimed at dealing with specific pension events.

1.2       About SPPA

The Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) is an executive Agency of the Scottish Government.  It was previously known as the Scottish Office Pensions Agency which was created on 1 April 1993. It employs over 200 employees and is based in the Scottish Borders.

SPPA administers and regulates the National Health Service Superannuation Scheme Scotland (NHSSS(S) and Scottish Teachers' Pension Schemes (STSS) and other occupational pension schemes for which the Scottish Ministers are responsible. It also regulates the Local Government, Police and Fire Pension Schemes administered by Scottish Local Authorities.

The overall framework within which SPPA operates is set out in the Framework Document.

Full contact details for all areas of the SPPA can be found in the Contacts section of our website.

Scottish Public Pensions Agency
7 Tweedside Park
Tweedbank
Galashiels
TD1 3TE
Tel: 01896 893 000
Fax: 01896 893 214

 

1.3       SPPA: aims, objectives and responsibilities

Key aims

    • to administer, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, the public service pension, premature retirement compensation and injury benefit schemes, for which the Scottish Ministers have administrative responsibility, in order to provide an efficient and effective service for the benefit of those who use the schemes at an economic cost to the public purse
    • to prepare in accordance with government policy, the regulations governing these and other schemes, for which Scottish Ministers have regulatory responsibility
    • to determine questions under the regulations, on which there is a right of appeal, to Scottish Ministers; and - to advise Scottish Ministers on occupational pensions policy generally

Key objectives

    • to provide a timely, accurate and helpful service to members of the schemes and other employees who may be entitled to benefits eg: Injury Benefits, administered by SPPA, and their employers
    • to collect and pay, promptly and accurately, sums due under these schemes, and to arrange for their proper accounting and budgeting
    • to publish timely and accurate information about changes to scheme policies and regulations to local authorities and other bodies administering schemes regulated by SPPA
    • to provide value for money in delivering cost effective service
    • to reduce over time the ratio of running costs to case-load
    • to provide appropriate policy advice to the Ministers and Departments of The Scottish Government on their pensions responsibilities and regulate and develop the schemes for which they are responsible in accordance with Government policies
    • a more detailed description of the aims and objectives of the SPPA can be found on our website

Key responsibilities

All Employers and pension scheme administrators who provide an occupational pension scheme for an employee have responsibilities under the Pensions Act 1995 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996 (see www.opsi.gov.uk)

SPPA's operational responsibilities are to:

    • maintain accurate and up to date records for scheme members and pensioners based on information provided by employers
    • determine the day to day operational policy for running the scheme
    • award timely and accurate benefits under the NHS Superannuation, Injury Benefit and Compensation for Premature Retirement Schemes
    • ensure that Employing Authorities make timely and accurate payments of employers' and employees' contributions to the NHSSSS and maintain and implement such information and other systems as may be necessary to fulfil these functions
    • preserve benefits for early leavers
    • provide estimates of benefits entitlement on a regular basis in line with Pensions Act 1995 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996
    • pay transfer values for members moving out of the scheme and receive payments for people transferring into the scheme.Pay refunds of contributions in line with current regulations
    • process applications to purchase additional benefits under the scheme
    • publicise the scheme and encourage awareness among NHS employers and NHS employees about the scheme and the benefits available
    • to maintain a continually mutually beneficial working relationship with NHS employers and to assist them in their duties
    • to adhere to agreed time limits

 

 

1.4       About the National Health Service Superannuation (Scotland) scheme

The scheme is a statutory occupational pension scheme and was contracted out of the State Second Pension (previously referred to as SERPS) up to 5 April 2016. It is a defined benefit scheme and is based on membership during NHS employment  and transfer values into NHSSSS.

Employing authorities are obliged to offer the scheme to all eligible employees they employ.

The NHSSS(S) was reformed in line with UK Pension Reforms, on the 1 April 2008. Members who were in the NHSSS(S) prior to 1 April 2008 are subject to updated arrangements. This is referred to as the 1995 section.

Those joining the scheme for the first time on or after 1 April 2008 are subject to different arrangements. This is referred to as the 2008 section.

Active members of the 1995 section were also given a one off choice to move to the 2008 Section. This is known as the 'Choice' exercise and took place in 2010.

Brief overview of the benefits for members on joining the pension scheme

Benefits for 1995 section members

    • normal pension age (NPA) of 60 for most members (55 for members of special classes and Mental Health Officers (MHOs))
    • a retirement pension based on 1/80th of pensionable pay per year of service based on the best of the last 3 years pensionable pay before retirement
    • normally, a tax free retirement lump sum of 3 x pension with the option to give up part of the pension for a lump sum up to 25% of pension value (Commutation). See the Commutation Calculator 
    • preserved benefits if leaving pensionable employment before age 60 without being entitled to an immediate pension and at least 2 years qualifying service has accrued

Benefits for 2008 section members

    • normal pension age of 65 for all members
    • no special class/MHO retirement rights apply
    • a retirement pension based on 1/60th of pensionable pay per year of service. Pension will be calculated on the basis of the average of the best 3 consecutive year's pensionable pay out of the last 10 years before retirement
    • option to exchange part of pension benefits for cash lump sum at retirement, up to 25% of overall pension value (Commutation)
    • preserved benefits if leaving pensionable employment before NPA without being entitled to an immediate pension and if at least 2 years qualifying service is accrued 
    • option to take Partial Retirement and continue to accrue further pension

Common to both sections:

    • life insurance of 2 years pensionable pay if still in superannuable employment at date of death
    • pension and allowances for a legal spouse, registered civil partner or surviving partner from the date of death.  Dependant children's pensions are payable until age 23 or longer depending on certain circumstances
    • benefits if retiring because of permanent ill-health
    • benefits if retiring early
    • injury Benefits
    • options to increase contributions to increase benefits. Members will be able to purchase Additional Pension of up to £5000 of additional annual pension. Further Additional Pension information 
    • pensions and allowances are index linked
    • pension benefits can be transferred in to and out of the scheme
    • the NHSSS(S) introduced new tiered contribution rates from 1st April 2008 - contribution rates are directly linked to individual earnings for a fairer way to fund new benefits and future costs

 

1.5       Employer Responsibilities

All Employers and Pension Scheme Administrators who provide an occupational pension scheme for employee have responsibilities under the Pensions Act 1995 and The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996.

The NHSSSS is administered on behalf of the Scottish Ministers by the SPPA. The Regulations, however, also place certain obligations on employers and specifically require employers to fulfill certain functions. A copy of the NHSSSS Regulations can be found on the SPPA website.

Main responsibilities

    • To maintain a continuing mutually beneficial working relationship with SPPA and to assist them in their duties.
    • To assess and collect employer and employee pension contributions in an accurate manner.
    • To make payment to the SPPA of employer and employee pension contributions at the correct rate and in a timely manner.
    • To maintain accurate employment records for all scheme members and submit these records to the SPPA in a timely manner.
    • To pay initial widows/widower's/partners pensions which are later reclaimed from SPPA.
    • To forward applications and related documentation to the SPPA within specified time scales.
    • To provide a timely and accurate service to all employees in relation to scheme benefits by the provision of ongoing guidance and information.
    • To comply with the requirements of the Contracts of Employment Act relating to Pensions.
    • To adhere to agreed time limits.

Additional Information for Employers

Employers should ensure that all employees concerned with administering the NHSSSS are fully aware of their obligations. They should furthermore have access to this guide via the SPPA website. All circulars can also be accessed via our website.

 

1.6       Financial Advice, Data Protection and Freedom of Information

Financial Advice

The Finance and Markets Act 2000 (see www.opsi.gov.uk) requires persons giving financial investment advice to be registered and to be accountable for any advice they give.

SPPA employees have been advised that, when answering superannuation enquiries, they should not attempt to offer advice about the comparable merits of the NHSSSS and any other pension provision.

If employers are approached by members who appear to be seeking financial advice on the various options open to them, they should be informed that neither the employer nor SPPA is empowered to give such advice, but that they may contact an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) who is registered under the above Act.

 

Data Protection Act

The Data Protection Act 1998 (see www.opsi.gov.uk) provides an individual (i.e. person) who is the subject of computerised personal data with a right of access to that data. An individual is also entitled to receive an explanation of any unintelligible terms forming part of the data. This right of access may be exercised by a request in writing to SPPA.

 

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (see www.opsi.gov.uk) came into force on 1st January 2005, allowing everyone to have access to information held by Scottish public authorities, including the Scottish Government and SPPA. Any enquiries relating to pensions information from members or their agents should be directed to SPPA.

 

1.7       Third Party Information and Disputes

The Occupational Pensions Board (OPB)

Pension scheme members should be given details of the bodies that exist to help them in the case of difficulty in tracing their former pension arrangements. To this end, the Occupational Pensions Board has been appointed Registrar of Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes.

The Registrar principally provides a tracing service so that people can keep track of their former pension arrangements as they move jobs.

Any member wishing to use this service should contact:

The Pension Tracing Service
Whitley Road
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
NE98 1BA

Tel: +44(0)845 6002 537
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/Companyandpersonalpensions/DG_10027189

 

 

 1.8       Complaints and Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures

 

If a member has a complaint, please tell us. If we have made a mistake, we will apologise and put things right as quickly as possible.  SPPA will try to resolve complaints within 15 working days.

If the member is not satisfied, we have a disputes procedure which complies with pension legislation and Citizen's Charter guidelines.  This is a staged process, the first of which asks the member to write to the Scheme Manager who will try to resolve their dispute and respond to it within 2 months.  If the member disagrees with this outcome, is still not satisfied he can write to the Director of Policy, Strategy and Development at SPPA to ask for a determination by the Scottish Ministers.

If the member is still not satisfied, they can get advice from the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS). 

They can be contacted at:

The Pension Advisory Service (TPAS)
11 Belgrave Road
London
SW1V 1RB
 
Tel: 0845 601 2923
Fax: 0207 233 8016
 
 

 

Finally the member may take their case to the Pensions Ombudsman (PO) or the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

 

The Ombudsman expects complainants to have consulted TPAS first.  They give free help and advice to people who have problems with occupational or personal pensions.  

The Pensions Ombudsman can be contacted at:

The Pensions Ombudsman
11 Belgrave Road
London SW1V 1RB
 
Tel: 0845 601 2923
Fax: 0207 233 8016
 

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can be contacted at:

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Freepost SPSO
 
Tel: 0800 377 7330
 

 

Link to Scottish Government Website