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Public Service Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014

Administration

Section 15: Information about schemes

Section 15 is concerned with the collection and publication of information about schemes under section 1. It allows the Department of Finance and Personnel to direct schemes to publish information or to provide information to the Department of Finance and Personnel, and to specify how and when that information is to be published or produced.

The purpose of this section is to improve the transparency of public service pension schemes. It is intended to be used to ensure that information is publicly available to allow comparisons to be made across schemes on: their financial position; costs to members and other taxpayers; their assets and liabilities (including how those are managed); membership demographics; and administration and governance standards. It is intended to allow for matters such as the format, methodology and data to be included in published information to be set centrally and applied consistently across all of the public service schemes governed by the Act. This is intended to ensure that information is produced to common standards and timing, which will make it easier to compare public service pension scheme information and for members and taxpayers to hold schemes to account.

Responsible authorities will continue to be able to publish information independently. This section is also intended to allow the Department of Finance and Personnel to collect centrally all of the information it requires to carry out its functions under the Act; for example, the setting of valuations methodologies under section 11.

Subsection (1) allows the Department of Finance and Personnel to direct scheme managers or a responsible authority to publish information themselves or to provide it to the Department of Finance and Personnel. Information provided to the Department of Finance and Personnel may be collated and published centrally.

Subsection (2) explains that the information referred to in subsection (1) relates to information about the scheme itself and other statutory schemes that are connected with it.

Subsection (3) gives example of the types of information which schemes may be directed to publish or provide. It includes, for example, scheme accounts and information about scheme membership.

Subsection (4) provides that a Department of Finance and Personnel direction may specify how and when information is to be published or provided.

Subsection (5) stipulates that a Department of Finance and Personnel direction cannot require schemes to publish or provide information that could not otherwise be lawfully provided. This protection means that schemes cannot be required to publish or provide information in breach of data protection obligations or the laws which govern the confidentiality of an individual’s tax and social security affairs.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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