Pension Advisory Board and Pension Panel updates

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is currently advertising on its website asking for people to become members of the West Sussex Pension Advisory Board. In a previous issue of our member newsletter, Branch Lines, we highlighted our concerns about the County Council’s approach. Nevertheless, in an email to members and website article, we asked for members to put themselves forward for two important positions, newly created on the Pension Advisory Board. We’re delighted that two UNISON members from an original field of 6 have come forward for the vacancies. They have received training and support from UNISON’s head office so they can discharge the role on your behalf.

Unfortunately, WSCC is pursuing an approach to the Pensions Advisory Board which, in UNISON’s view, is at odds with government guidelines, and is a pretty crass attempt to circumvent your trade union.

WSCC intends to interview candidates for positions on the board, rather than work with the union as most other councils are doing. How non-members will represent your views should they be appointed, who they will be accountable to, how they will report back, and who they will get support from is a moot point. Non-union members, if appointed to the Pensions Board, will not have the access to UNISON’s pension experts and training that our local nominees will have.

Your branch’s UNISON nominees are Angela Elliott from Shoreham Academy, and Chris Scanes, one of our retired members who used to work for West Sussex County Council.

If appointed by WSCC, they will be responsible for something that matters hugely to members whose interests they will represent – the security of your pension at a cost you can afford. The appointments will be able to challenge and influence decisions being made about your pension by the Pension Panel.

We sincerely hope that West Sussex County Council will not seek to impose non-union candidates on the Board out of a petty opposition to trade unionists.

Pension Panel

Your rep on the West Sussex Pension Panel is Branch Secretary, Dan Sartin. WSCC is also ‘flying a kite’ for potential new reps on the Pension Panel, which has a different role to the Pensions Board. As a UNISON member you already have a representative on the Panel, Dan.

If you are potentially interested in taking on the role, please call Dan for a chat on 01243 777636. That the County Council is seeking non-members to potentially replace Dan on the Pension panel should be a matter of concern for any staff with an interest in the LGPS – whether a member of UNISON or not.

UNISON campaigned for over 7 years for its members to be involved in the decision-making processes of LPGS pension funds. Now the Government has legislated for it to happen, it is a great shame that WSCC appears to undervalue the unique contribution that UNISON members and reps make to pensions governance, rooted as they are within, and supported by, a great trade union which can provide effective challenge to the decisions of those with power.

We will keep you up-to-date with news on this.