Circular 57/2015 – Firefighters’ Pension Bulletin: Changes to Administration of NIFRS Pension Function
The purpose of this Circular is to inform Firefighters of changes in the administration of Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) Pension Function.
NIFRS currently administers four Pension Schemes as set out in the relevant legislation, ie:
(i) The Firefighters- Pension Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2007 (FPS);
(ii) The New Firefighters- Pensions Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2007 (NFPS) and The New Firefighters- Pension Scheme (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015;
(iii) The Firefighters- Compensation Scheme Order (Northern Ireland) 2007;
(iv) The Firefighters- Pension Scheme Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2015 (CARE).
The Public Services Pension Act 2013 and the Public Services Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 required NIFRS to establish new arrangements for governance. These arrangements include the formation of a Pension Board to assist in the efficient and effective administration of the Pension Schemes and ensure each Scheme complies with governance and administration requirements.
The current structure of the Pension Section will not enable the Pension Board to meet its Terms of Reference.
NIFRS introduced the Heywood AXISe System in 2007. Heywoods (now called Aquila Heywood) decided to decommission their Police and Fire AXISe Pensions Administration platform and ceased to support it beyond 31 December 2014.
NIFRS commenced a tendering exercise to procure a replacement Pension Administration System. Unfortunately no tenderer met the required specification and the Evaluation Panel in December 2014 decided not to award the contract for a replacement System.
NIFRS currently has no substantive members of staff in the Pension Section.
3 Current Position
In July 2015, NIFRS submitted a Business Case in respect of the Pension Function to the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety (DHSSPS). DHSSPS, after consultation with the Department of Justice (DoJ), agreed to outsource NIFRS- Pension Function to the Health & Social Care Business Service Organisation (BSO) through a Service Level Agreement.
On 1 September 2015, NIFRS signed a two year Service Level Agreement with BSO for the provision of Pensions- Administrative Services.
NIFRS is currently establishing a Working Group for this project to oversee the following:
- Developing a Project Plan with defined timelines
- Data upload to Pension System
- Data Cleansing Exercise
- Pilot System
- Defining processes
- Ensure successful implementation of Project.
It is anticipated that the Pension Function will be outsourced early 2016 and members will be provided with frequent updates to advise of the current position and what the changes will mean for them.
We really appreciate your patience throughout this process.
Dale Ashford QFSM
INTERIM CHIEF FIRE & RESCUE OFFICER