Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

CIRCULAR 39/2017: Firefighters’ Pension Bulletin – Update on NIFRS’s Pension Administration and Software

1          PURPOSE
The purpose of this Circular is to provide a further update from the Pension Circular 10/2017 and  advise  Firefighters of the future changes in the administration of  Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service’s (NIFRS) Pension function and the procurement of a new Pension Software System.

2          BACKGROUND
Pension Schemes:
NIFRS currently administers four Pension Schemes as set out in the relevant legislation, ie:
• The Firefighters’ Pension Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2007 (FPS);
• The New Firefighters’ Pensions Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2007 (NFPS) and The New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 (Modified Scheme);
• The Firefighters’ Compensation Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2007; and
• The Firefighters’ Pension Scheme Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2015 (CARE).
Pension Administration and Software:
On 29 July 2016, the Department of Health approved the business case in respect of a review of the Pension function which incorporated two aspects:
• Outsourcing of NIFRS’s Pension function to the Health & Social Care Business Service Organisation (BSO) through a Service Level Agreement (SLA); and
• Procurement of a Pension Software System.

CAPITA has been awarded the contract to provide a Pension Administration Software System for a five year period and NIFRS is currently defining the Project Initiation Documentation for the Project which has an implementation time frame of approximately one year and three months.
A two year SLA is now in place with BSO, from 1 July 2017 until 30 June 2019, who will assist with the software implementation prior to taking on the pension administration role moving forward.
Operational personnel will be provided with updates on a quarterly basis to advise them of the current progress of the project and what the changes will mean for them moving forward.

It is anticipated that the new Pension Software System will be used to provide the 2018 Annual Benefit Statements (ABS).  In the interim, NIFRS is now commencing an exercise to compile some of the 2017 ABS manually, on a phased approach, as set out in the table below:
ABS Type Protection Comment TimelineWholetime FirefightersFPS Full October 2017FPS Tapered Reaches age 55 or 30 years’ service prior to moving to CARE October 2017FPS Tapered Moves to CARE before reaches age 55 or 30 years’ service December 2017FPS None Moved to CARE December 2017NFPS Full October 2017NFPS Tapered December 2017NFPS None Moved to CARE December 2017Retained FirefightersNFPS Full January 2018NFPS Tapered January 2018NFPS None January 2018NFPS Special MS Lump sum buy back Under reviewNFPS Special MS 10 year buy back Under reviewCARE January 2018

It should be noted that the ABS will be posted to the operational member’s home address so it is vitally important to ensure that the personal details held within the Payroll Offices are accurate and any changes notified to NIFRS using the appropriate SC45 in a timely manner.

Operational employees who are considering retiring can still contact the Pension Section via the following email address

Thank you for your patience throughout this process.

Gary Thompson


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