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  “I have been in the Industry Pension Scheme since I became a plumbing apprentice and that was over 15 years ago. I know how important having a good pension will be for me in the future.”
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News

This page is intended to identify any topical pensions issues that may have an effect on employees and employers within the Plumbing and Mechanical Services industry. It is intended to provide up-to-date information and also give members the opportunity to comment on any articles posted.

Should you have any relevant comments or questions please email Stuart McDonald: stuart.mcdonald@plumbingpensions.co.uk

Industry Scheme in the News- 23 December 2016
Staff Charity Donation 2016- 15 December 2016
Robert Burgon - 30 November 2016
Employer Consultation - 15 July 2016
UK Referendum on Leaving the EU - 23 June 2016

Angela Smith - 24 May 2016

Staff Charity Donation 2015 - 15 December 2015

New Deputy Pensions Manager appointed - 1 September 2015

Recent Staff Retirements - 1 September 2015
Budget Changes - 9 February 2015

Plumbing Pensions working to trace lost members - 20 November 2014
Plumbing Pensions Congratulates Its First Centenarian Pensioner - 6 November 2013
Plumbing Pensions Recognised in Industry Awards
- 20 May 2013
Pensions Transfer Fraud - 22 February 2013
Award for Pensions Manager
- 24 September 2012


Industry Scheme in the News - 23 December 2016

The media recently reported on an issue affecting employers in the Industry Scheme.  This is a complex piece of pension legislation which requires employers to pay a large exit charge (called a ‘section 75 employer debt’) when they leave the Scheme.  The legislation does not affect the ongoing running of the Scheme or its ability to provide benefits to members in full.


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Staff Charity Donation 2016 - 15 December 2016

Christmas time once again and the staff of Plumbing Pensions and SNIPEF have joined the fun by helping play the part of Santa. Staff have been donating gifts to the Forth One radio station’s "Cash for Kids Mission Christmas Appeal”, a charity which aims at providing presents to disadvantaged children in order to help make their Christmas morning that little bit brighter.

Plumbing Pensions Benefits Assistant Clare Mack asked all staff members if they would like to donate for the fourth year running and there was again overwhelming support for this fantastic cause which Clare personally delivered to the radio station’s offices earlier this week.

 

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Robert Burgon - 30 November 2016

On 30 November, Robert Burgon retired from Plumbing Pensions after nearly 40 years' service, of which 30 years were as Pensions Manager. Robert will be a hard act to follow but the Trustee Board is confident that Kate Yates will provide the leadership the Scheme needs, taking forward all the good work that Robert has done. Kate is a qualified actuary and joined Plumbing Pensions in 2015 from Towers Watson.

Robert Burgon cutting retirement cake

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Employer Consultation - 15 July 2016

The Trustee is consulting with employers about a complex aspect of pension legislation known as section 75 employer debt.  This relates to a payment the law says employers need to make if they stop participating in the Scheme.  The consultation with employers is an important step for the Trustee but it does not affect the ongoing running of the Scheme or the payment of pensions to members.  The consultation is expected to run for four months until 31 August 2016.


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UK Referendum on Leaving the EU - 23 June 2016

The Trustee and its professional advisors are monitoring the position closely.  While the investment markets are likely to be more volatile in the short-term, the Scheme has a diverse range of assets and is invested for the long-term.  The Scheme will continue to pay benefits as usual to beneficiaries currently receiving pensions and members due to retire in the future.


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Angela Smith - 24 May 2016

The Scheme’s Business Development Executive Ms Angela Smith has recently left Plumbing Pensions and will not be replaced. All enquiries should, in future, be addressed to the office. Angela leaves with our thanks for hard work undertaken during her time with Plumbing Pensions and we wish her well in her future career.

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Staff Charity Donation 2015 - 15 December 2015

Christmas time once again and the staff of Plumbing Pensions and SNIPEF have joined the fun by helping play the part of Santa. Staff have been donating gifts to the Forth One radio station’s "Mission Christmas Appeal”, a charity which aims at providing presents to disadvantaged children in order to help make their Christmas morning that little bit brighter.

Plumbing Pensions Benefits Assistant Clare Mack asked all staff members if they would like to donate for the third year running and there was again overwhelming support for this fantastic cause which Clare personally delivered to the radio station’s offices earlier this week.


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New Deputy Pensions Manager appointed - 1 September 2015

We are delighted to welcome Kate Yates FIA to her new role as Deputy Pensions Manager.  Kate joined us from Towers Watson where she worked on our actuarial advisory team, so she already knows a lot about our Scheme. 


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Recent Staff Retirements - 13 May 2015

After combined service of over 75 years, we wish Andrena McQueen (Administration Manager) and Michael Caird (Benefits Manager) all the best for their retirements.  We thank them for their commitment to the Scheme over the years and hope they enjoy spending their Scheme pensions!

Stuart McDonald has moved into a new role as Pensions Operations Manager overseeing both administration and benefits.  Kate Urquhart (who celebrated an amazing 40 years with the organisation in July 2015) has become Team Leader (Administration) and Graham Steele is now Team Leader (Benefits).


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Budget Changes - 9 February 2015

On 19 March 2014, in his Budget speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a number of changes which could affect members of pension schemes.

The most significant change (which has been widely reported in the press) is the removal of the requirement for members of Defined Contribution (DC) pension schemes to purchase an annuity at retirement. This change does not affect members of Defined Benefit (DB) pension schemes like the Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme. However there are some other changes which could impact on members of this Scheme.

Changes happening now

From 27 March 2014 some changes in the Budget came into immediate effect. The main changes for members of DB pension schemes include:

  • Increasing the value of pension savings that can be taken as a cash lump sum from £2,000 to £10,000 for up to three separate pension arrangements.
  • Raising the limit on the value of all pension savings which can be taken as cash from age 60 (known as trivial commutation) from £18,000 to £30,000.

In both of the above cases the first 25% of the amount being taken is paid tax-free and the remaining 75% is subject to income tax at the member’s marginal rate.

Proposed changes from April 2015

Additional changes were proposed in the Budget to come into effect from April 2015. The Chancellor has recommended (subject to Parliamentary approval) that:

  • The minimum age that members can access their pension savings will increase from age 55 to 57 in 2028 and then change in line with increases to the State Pension Age (SPA) so that it remains 10 years below SPA.
  • The age at which members of DB schemes can access small amounts of pension will reduce from age 60 to 55.

The Industry Pension Scheme will communicate directly with any members affected by the new higher limits on taking pension as cash. Members with any queries about the changes can contact the Scheme on 08457 656565.

Further information

For financial advice you can visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk, or you can find an Independent Financial Adviser using the website www.unbiased.co.uk


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Plumbing Pensions working to trace lost members - 21 November 2014

In common with many other pension schemes, the Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme has a number of records for members with whom they have lost contact. These members- who are generally no longer contributing to the Scheme- have moved house (sometimes more than once) and not told their pension scheme. Each year when the Scheme issues certificates to its members who have not retired, it receives a number returned by the Post Office marked "Gone Away".

It is important to the Scheme that all members know about their pension entitlement and, more importantly, receive their benefits at the due date.

As part of its ongoing work to reconcile members with benefits which they may not know about, Plumbing Pensions has recently joined a service called Find My Lost Pension. This service enables individuals to check, using their National Insurance number, whether any pension benefits are being held on their behalf by any of the schemes participating in the service. Further details of this service are contained in this download- Find My Lost Pension.

Within 24 hours of joining this service, Plumbing Pensions had received information about 14 members for whom it did not hold a current address. It is hoped over time that this service (and a number of other methods being used by the Scheme) will enable members of the Scheme to become reconciled with their "lost" pensions.



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Plumbing Pensions Congratulates Its First Centenarian Pensioner - 6 November 2013

The Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme recently sent birthday greetings to its first ever 100-year old pensioner.

Charles Crowther, who lives in Aberdeenshire, completed a plumbing apprenticeship in Leeds in 1934. As a member of the Auxiliary Air Force, he was called up several weeks before the start of World War II and was released from the Royal Air Force in 1945 with the rank of Flt Sergeant. After the war, he ran his own plumbing business in Leeds, employing 4 plumbers but eventually sold it to take up a Technical Sales Representative's post with Durapipe Ltd in Scotland with whom he remained until retirement.

Charles Crowther

Commenting after his 100th birthday on 22 October, 2013, Charles said that “I had a most enjoyable birthday and the celebrations lasted a week. I am sure that joining Plumbing Pensions was the best investment I ever made.”



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Plumbing Pensions Recognised in Industry Awards - 5 March 2013

The Plumbing and Mechanical services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme has been awarded second place in the Pension Scheme of the Year category at an event organised by Financial News magazine.

Nominated by the magazine and judged by a panel of 55 judges, the Scheme came second to the Tesco Pension Scheme. Third place went to the BA Pension Schemes.

In reporting the awards event, held at the Savoy in London, Financial News said that “The plumbing scheme’s score (in the judging) is particularly impressive given that it is a fifth of the size of Tesco’s fund. Unlike Tesco, its fund is in a small surplus, despite the low bond yields and volatile investment markets that the industry has struggled with in recent years.”

Robert Burgon, Secretary & Pensions Manager of the Scheme, said that “it is a huge honour for the Scheme to be recognised in this way. For almost 40 years, Plumbing Pensions has worked to provide good quality pensions for those working in the industry. This recognition, alongside some much larger household names, is an indication of the respect the Scheme enjoys from the wider financial services sector. It comes at a good time as the Scheme prepares to expand by assisting employers to meet their Auto Enrolment obligations.”



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Pensions Transfer Fraud - 22 February 2013

In the vast majority of cases where members wish to transfer their benefits to another arrangement there should not be any problems. However, it has recently been brought to our attention that there is growing evidence of pension scheme members being subject to something which is called "pension liberation fraud".

Throughout the pensions industry there have been an increasing number of companies targeting savers claiming that they can help them take their pension cash before age 55, this has been named as "pension liberation fraud" by the Pensions Regulator. Pension liberation fraud is where a Scheme member has been offered the chance to transfer their pension savings to an arrangement that will allow them access to their funds before the age of 55. Accessing pension funds legally before the age of 55 is only possible in extremely rare circumstances, for example serious ill health.

For the majority, this activity would be fraudulent and promises of early cash will be bogus and are likely to result in serious tax charges and penalties amounting to more than half the value of a member's pension savings.

The majority of cases identified to date have been aimed at members yet to attain the age of 55. However, members who have reached age 55 may also wish to ensure that any transfer application made is not as a result of a fraudulent activity.

What to look out for:

• Being approached over the phone or via a text message.
• Pushy advisers or 'introducers' who offer cash incentives to transfer.
• Companies that can offer a 'loan', 'saving advance' or 'cash back' from your pension.
• Not being informed about the potential tax consequences.

Five steps to avoid becoming a victim:

1. Never give out financial or personal information to a cold caller.
2. Find out about the company's background through information online (any Financial Advisers should be registered with the Financial Services Authority: www.fsa.gov.uk).
3. Ask for a statement showing how your pension will be paid at retirement and question who will look after your money until then.
4. Speak to an adviser that is not associated with the proposal you have received – for unbiased advice.
5. Never be rushed into agreeing to a pension transfer.


We would strongly recommend that you visit the Pensions Regulator website for further information at: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/pension-liberation-fraud.aspx.

If you have been approached and would like to discuss your case you can do so by telephoning the Plumbing Pensions Benefits Department on 0131 556 0600.



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Award for Pensions Manager - 24 September 2012

Congratulations to Robert Burgon, the Scheme Pensions Manager who is seen pictured on the right receiving the award of “Top Blogger” from one of the main pension industry online communities – Mallow Street.

Robert receiving award

The judges were impressed with Robert’s raising of key issues and the immediate policy relevance of his blog commentary. They also felt his blogs offered a community perspective and that he is always happy to share his own thoughts and wealth of experience with others in the industry.

Visit and read some of Robert’s Scheme blogs here.

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