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Public Service Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2014


Section 5: Pension board

This section requires public service pension schemes set up under section 1 to establish a pension board. The board’s role is to assist the scheme manager in securing the effective and efficient governance and administration of the pension scheme and any statutory scheme connected with it.

The pension board will, in particular, be charged with helping the scheme manager to ensure the scheme is operated to an appropriate standard. It will have the responsibility of assisting the scheme manager in relation to the matters set out in subsection (3). These matters include ensuring that schemes are administered in accordance with all relevant legislation concerning the governance and administration of public schemes and any requirements imposed on the scheme by the Pensions Regulator. The pension board will be required to discharge these functions in relation to a public service pension scheme set up under section 1 and any statutory pension scheme connected with it. This mirrors the provisions for scheme managers. For example, a pension board for a new civil service pension scheme will also be required to assist and advise the scheme manager in respect of existing civil service pension schemes.

In all cases, the scheme manager will retain ultimate responsibility for the administration and governance of the scheme. The role of the pension board is to support the scheme manager in fulfilling that responsibility and, by virtue of subsection (3)(b), in securing compliance with any requirements imposed by the Pensions Regulator. It will be for the scheme regulations and the scheme manager to determine precisely how the pension board carries out its role.

Subsection (2) provides that in the case of a scheme made under section 1(2)(c) for local government workers the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) may be the pension board.

Subsection (4) provides that when making scheme regulations the responsible authority must have regard to the desirability of securing the effective and efficient governance and administration of the scheme.

Subsections (5) and (6) are concerned with the balance of employer/employee representatives on the pension board and with conflicts of interest. Schemes must have an equal number of persons appointed to represent employees and employers on the board. There are also likely to be other board members representing different interests. Subsections (5) and (6) prevent a person from being a member of a pension board where they have another interest that could prejudice them carrying out the role.

Under subsection (5)(a), the scheme manager (who is responsible for appointing the members of the pension board) must ensure that no conflict of interest exists at the time of appointment and while the member continues to serve. This provision would not prevent a person who is a member of the pension scheme to which the pension board relates (or a representative of members, or of employers) from being a member of the pension board.

Under subsection (5)(b), a prospective pension board member must provide adequate information to the scheme manager to establish that a conflict of interest does not exist.

Under subsection (5)(c), equal numbers of employer and member representatives must be appointed to the pension board. Each category is defined in subsection (7), which provides that employer representatives are persons appointed for the purpose of representing employers for the scheme and any connected scheme, while member representatives are persons appointed for the purpose of representing members of the scheme and any connected scheme. The provision does not mean that the pension board will necessarily consist only of these two groups. Schemes may appoint other persons to their board. For example, it is possible there could be representatives of the responsible authority and the scheme manager as well as independent board members.

Subsection (6) explains that a conflict of interest means a financial or other interest which is likely to prejudice how a member carries out his or her duties (but not a financial or other interest arising merely from membership of the scheme or a connected scheme). This does not include other interests such as a mandate to represent the interests of scheme members or those of employers (which may be relevant but could not be said to be prejudicial).

Subsection (9) exempts injury and compensation schemes from the requirement to have a pension board. Such schemes are not subject to the remit of the Pensions Regulator or the legislation relating to the governance and administration of pension schemes.

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Explanatory Notes

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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