Posted by Sam Topham at 30/03/2020 11:17:28
The situation surrounding coronavirus is fast moving, but ERPF would like to reassure our scheme members that we are doing everything we can to ensure our service is not disrupted during this time. ERPF is monitoring the latest advice from the UK Government to manage any consequences for scheme employers, scheme members and our own staff.
ERPF’s priority will be to protect the Fund against the impact of interruptions and we have already put robust measures in place to ensure that we can continue to pay pensions and administer the scheme whilst dealing with any significant event (such as the possible impacts of coronavirus). These measures are tested regularly as part of our Business Continuity Plan and will continue to be reviewed over the coming days and weeks. As the situation develops ERPF may need to limit non-essential services and we will continue to keep scheme members updated of any decisions or actions taken. At present, ERPF services are operating as normal.
As a result of coronavirus and the recent global downturn in the economy, the Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) have issued a statement and have asked ERPF to reassure scheme members that their pension benefits will not be affected. The LGPS is a defined benefit scheme set out in law and therefore benefits payable will not be directly affected by stock market changes or performance of investments. Member’s pension accounts are revalued each year to allow for inflation and to keep up with the cost of living which are shown yearly on the annual benefits statement or payslip.
The SAB statement can be accessed here:
The Pensions Regulator have launched their ScamSmart Campaign, helping members to avoid losing their pension benefits to scam companies. The whole campaign can be accessed on the TPR website and we've outlined a quick guide below:
Four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams:
1. Reject unexpected offers
If you’re contacted out of the blue about your pension, chances are it’s high risk or a scam.
Be wary of free pension review offers. A free offer out of the blue from a company you have not dealt with before is probably a scam. Fortunately, research shows that 95% of unexpected pension offers are rejected.*
2. Check who you’re dealing with
Check the Financial Services Register (www.register.fca.org.uk) to make sure that anyone offering you advice or other financial services is FCA-authorised. If you don’t use an FCA-authorised firm, you also won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So you’re unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong. If the firm is on the FCA Register, you should call the Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 to check the firm is permitted to give pension advice. Beware of fraudsters pretending to be from a firm authorised by the FCA, as it could be what we call a ‘clone firm’. Use the contact details provided on the FCA Register, not the details they give you.
3. Don’t be rushed or pressured
Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’. Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true and don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.
4. Get impartial information and advice
The Pensions Advisory Service (www.thepensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk) – Provides free independent and impartial information and guidance. Pension Wise (www.pensionwise.gov.uk) – If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution (DC) pension, Pension Wise offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options. Financial advisers – It’s important you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances, so you should seriously consider using the services of a financial adviser. If you do opt for an adviser, be sure to use one that is regulated by the FCA and never take investment advice from the company that contacted you or an adviser they suggest, as this may be part of the scam.
*FCA Financial Lives
The Pensions Regulator have launched their ScamSmart Campaign, helping members to avoid losing their pension benefits to scam companies. The whole campaign can be accessed on the TPR website
and attached is a quick guide and further information.