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SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION

1. About this guide

2. About SPPA

3. SPPA: Aims, Objectives and Responsibilities

4. About the Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme

5. Employer Responsibilities 

6. Financial Advice, Data Protection and Freedom of Information 

7. Third Party Information and Disputes 

8. Complaints Procedure 

 

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 a specific pension event.

                                                                                                           

2. About SPPA

The Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) is an executive Agency of the Scottish Government, and it is based in the Scottish Borders.SPPA administers and regulates the National Health Service Superannuation Scheme (Scotland) and Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme (STSS) and other occupational pension schemes for which the Scottish Ministers are responsible. SPPA also regulates the Local Government, Police and Fire Pension Schemes administered by Scottish Local Authorities.

The overall framework within which it operates is set out in its Framework Document.

Full contact details for all areas of 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

 

 

 

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 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.
    • 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 SPPA can be found on our website.

Key Responsibilities

All Employers and Pension Scheme Administrators who provide an occupational pension scheme for employees 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 STSS and Compensation for Premature Retirement Scheme.
    • Ensure that Employing Authorities make timely and accurate payments of employers' and employees' contributions to the STSS 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 and on request to scheme members.
    • 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 pension. Publicise the scheme and raise awareness of the benefits available.
    • To maintain a continually mutually beneficial working relationship with STSS employers and to assist them in their duties.
    • To adhere to agreed time limits.

4. About the Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme

The Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme (STSS) 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. The scheme is a defined benefit scheme and is based on membership during STSS employment and transfer values into STSS.

The STSS was reformed in line with UK Pension Reforms, on 1st April 2007. Members who were in the STSS prior to 1st April 2007 have a Normal Pension Age (NPA) of 60.

Members joining the scheme for the first time on or after 1st April 2007 have a NPA of 65.

 

NPA 60 members

    • NPA 60.
    • 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.
    • Pension will be calculated on the basis of either the average of the best 3 consecutive year's pensionable pay out of the last 10 years before retirement or the last 365 days salary with the best option being used.
    • 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). 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.

 

 NPA 65 members
    • NPA 65.
    • A retirement pension based on 1/60th of pensionable pay per year of service.
    • Pension will be calculated on the basis of either the average of the best 3 consecutive year's pensionable pay out of the last 10 years before retirement or the last 365 days salary with the best option being used.
    • Preserved benefits if leaving pensionable employment before age 65 without being entitled to an immediate pension and if at least 2 years qualifying service is accrued. 

 

Benefits common to both

    • Death benefits of 3 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 Pensions and allowances are index linked.
    • Pension benefits can be transferred in to and out of the scheme.

 

5. Employer Responsibilities

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

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

 

Main Employer 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 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 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 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 administering the STSS are fully aware of their obligations. They should have access to this guide via SPPA's website. All circulars can also be accessed via our website. 

     

    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 which 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 STSS 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.

     

    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
     

     

    8. Complaints Procedure

    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.

    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 complaint and respond to it within 3 weeks. If the member disagrees with this outcome and is still not satisfied they 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

    www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk

    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