Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Scheme LGPS Update

Pension Committee Update Notes as at 1st July 2016

Quieter less radical meetings this year, because now that the decision and submission to Government have been made about future pension investment collaboration, the difficult decisions have been completed. The main work is now deciding how to go forward with the collaboration; this now forms part of the normal day-to-day work of the Committee. The collaboration of the ten funds is known by the administering authorities as ‘Project Brunel’, so if you hear talk about ‘Project Brunel’ you now know what it is!

Pool Funds (Project Brunel). A joint submission from all ten administering authorities (Avon; Buckinghamshire; Cornwall; Dorset; Devon; Environment Agency Pension Fund; Gloucestershire; Oxfordshire; Somerset; and Wiltshire) to form the ‘Brunel Pension Partnership’ has been submitted to the Government and a response is awaited.

The size of the pool, once it is fully operational, will be in the region of £23 billion. However, it will be a few years before all the administering authorities can release their control of funds to the pool. This is due to the long term strategies employed by all of the authorities.

Future Decisions. There is a long list of work that now needs to be undertaken. For instance; where will the new headquarters of the fund be located? How will the governance and the legal structure of the fund be applied?  What is the tax and legal position of the fund? How will it be decided as to which authority ‘owns’ the investments or portions of the investments? Will the pool employ internal investment management? Communications to stakeholders – who will be responsible?

New Pensions Board. Alistair Bastin, UNISON Oxfordshire Branch Chairman and a member of the Pensions Board is keen to keep in contact with members of the scheme and would be pleased to ask and frame questions on member’s behalf. Please get in touch with Alistair if you have any questions.

There is a vacancy on the Board and if you are interested, please contact the UNISON office.

LGPS members are more than welcome to contact their Board to discuss pension matters, and if Unison members please contact the UNISON office in the first instance.’

Pension Statements. New pension statements are about to be issued and with the extra staff employed in administering the fund, all members should expect to receive their statement by the legal deadline of 31 August 2016. Also, you should receive a statement for each post that you hold with your employer.

Self Service. The ability to log in to your pension account has yet to happen but, there will be a big push to get this up and running from September.

Philip Wilde, Senior Branch Officer & member of the Pensions Commitee

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UNISON National Delegates Conference – Brighton 2016

UNISON National Conference took place this year in Brighton 21st – 24th June.  Delegates from Oxfordshire County branch attended to participate and support debates on a wide range of issues.

UNISON Oxfordshire County Rep Claire Stanhope with elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

UNISON Oxfordshire County Rep Claire Stanhope with elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Government attack on public service pay ‘a disgrace’

The decade between 2010 and 2020 will be the worst decade of pay growth in almost a century. Average pay had fallen by 12% since 2010, totaling a real terms loss of £16,000, for public service workers that sum was more than £21,000.  “The government has stolen the clothes of the living wage and dressed themselves up as the saviours of the low paid.

Conference agreed measures to support activists:

  • encourage branches through the joint branch assessment to dedicate targeted resources to embed within branches plans to support activists;
  • recognise that some current systems of accreditation and training can act as a barrier, and work on new ways of tackling this;
  • encourage branches and regions to develop mentoring systems.

Conference vowed to support young members experiencing bullying and harassment

According to statistics gathered by the UNISON Scottish Young Members Committee three quarters of young members had experienced bullying and harassment at work – with 7% of those experiencing violence.

Union will fight government’s proposed ‘bill of rights’

UNISON delegates in Brighton today condemned the government’s intention to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights”.

The conference motion states that, like the Trade Union Act, such legislation would represent “an ideological attack on our rights and freedoms. Workers’ rights and human rights are inseparable, we had to fight to win them, and now we must fight to defend them.

Branch Delegate Princess Harry (centre)

National Delegates Conference 2016 report – Peter Fryer

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UNISON School Uniform Grants – Deadline 15/7/2016

What are UNISON There for You School Uniform Grants?

In addition to our normal range of services and in response to the growing difficulties many members on low income  face,  a programme has been put in place that will assist our most vulnerable members with the cost of purchasing school uniforms.

How much are the Grants?

They are one-off grants of £40.00 per school age child, up to a total of £120.00

Am I eligible?

To be eligible you must be:

  • A member who has paid 4 weeks subscriptions before the launch date of this programme (23/5/16)
  • Have a total net annual household income of £18,000 or less. [Note:By household income we mean net earnings after tax, national insurance, pension deductions  of you, your partner and any other adults living in the property.   Please also refer to next bullet point:
  • The following is not included as income for the purpose of this specific grants programme:
  • Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Child Benefit and the childcare cost element only of Working Tax Credit
  • Responsible for meeting household bills and struggling to pay them
  • Financially responsible for the child/children.
  • Not eligible for funding for uniform costs from your Local Authority

Is there anything else that may affect my entitlement to apply?

  • Members and their partners must not have combined savings or, a rolling bank balance of more than £800.00. Savings of any other adults in the household do not apply
  • You must not have received financial assistance from UNISON There for You during the previous six months
  • Applications are limited to one per household
  • Ensure you send all requested paperwork with the form or the application cannot be accepted

How do I apply?

To apply for a School Uniform Grant simply:

  • Print out and complete the short 2-page application form that is attached to this email
  • Contact Unison Direct on 0800 0857 857 for a form to be posted to you
  • Provide us with evidence of your entire household income by sending copies of :
    • You and your partner (if applicable) last month’s payslip(s)
    • Last full month’s bank statements for all bank accounts held by you and your partner (if applicable)
  • Submit the form along with the completed short survey by 15 July 2016.
  • Post your application including all supporting paperwork to: UNISON Welfare, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY.

Where can I go for further help or advice?

There is a limited amount of funding in the school uniform grants programme and once it has been exhausted no further awards for the year can be made.  However if you are facing unforeseen hardship it may be possible for you to apply to our general grants programme.  We will let you know if this applies to you.

For further information, please see our web pages at www.unison.org/thereforyou, contact your Branch Welfare Officer or the There for You Support Team on  020 7121 5620  or email thereforyou@unison.co.uk.   If you are experiencing difficulty with credit card and other consumer debts, please refer to our additional  information at https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/services-support/there-for-you/debtline-support/, or contact our Debline direct on 0800 389 3302.


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Save Care Now

save care now!

Over 500,000 adults in the UK rely on homecare workers to get them out of bed, wash them, brush their teeth, help them take their medication and much more. But homecare workers are worried. Councils are allowing care providers to cut corners and the elderly and disabled people that need homecare are not getting the support they should.

Thousands of care workers are deeply concerned about the state of the care sector in the UK, but many are afraid to speak out publicly as they risk losing their jobs. It’s time to listen to them. Save Care Now is a UNISON campaign to raise the voices of homecare workers and improve the homecare sector.

Pay and conditions for care workers are so bad that the sector has extremely high turnover – according to a government report 30% of staff leave each year.  The UK’s own National Audit Office has reported that 220,000 care workers are routinely being illegally paid below the national minimum wage. This happens because they are often not paid for travel time (which there is a lot of between visits) and many have to pay for their own required uniforms and training. The widespread use of zero hours contracts for homecare workers makes this situation even worse, and it is especially damaging for the growing number of people suffering from dementia who receive homecare.

Care workers carry out many tasks that are similar to nurses, supporting people at their most vulnerable moments. Yet many homecare workers feel they are not adequately trained to carry out a lot of the tasks expected of them, and that this is detrimental to the people they care for.

We are calling on councils to sign UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter, a set of commitments that together ensure the health, safety, and dignity of the UK’s most vulnerable people.

As our members we would like to hear your experiences, please get in touch with us at the branch via email or 01865 815990 or by leaving a comment below.  We will keep any comments anonymous unless you tell us otherwise.

***Latest*** Oxfordshire County Branch is delighted to inform members that as of March 2016 Milton Keynes Council has become the latest council to sign up to the Ethical Care Charter

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UNISON welcomes government change of heart over check-off


UNISON is proud that we were the lead union in the campaign to stop the government from introducing a ban on members paying their union subscriptions directly from their pay packets (i.e. Check-off/DOCAS).

Following a high profile campaign by members and officials at all levels within the union, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“For months now I’ve been meeting with MP’s, peers, ministers and even Bishops, trying to win the argument over check-off. The government’s concession, (that employers can continue to collect union subscriptions by check-off, as long as the union pays the costs) is a significant victory for our union and our movement. It is a vindication of our work and a vindication of the union’s campaign”

UNISON South East Regional Secretary, Maggi Ferncombe, said:

“I am immensely proud of all our activists and organisers within the region. We have all been working together with the aim of stopping this particularly nasty piece of proposed legislation within the Trade Union Bill, which neither employees nor employers wanted. This is yet another success for UNISON and is part of the reason why we are all Proud to be in UNISON.

“However, this is by no means the end of the campaign to oppose the Trade Union Bill. The Bill has been changed considerably, due to our campaigning so far, but still contains some very damaging proposals for workers, not least the changes to strike thresholds and the double whammy effect of these changes to ‘essential’ workers, such as those in the Health sector.”

UNISON South East Regional Convenor, Mark Chiverton said:

“Activists and Organisers at all levels within UNISON are opposed to this Bill. We have been campaigning particularly hard on the changes to Check-off and are pleased that our efforts have been successful in changing the governments mind, but we are not going to stop our opposition to the rest of the Trade Union Bill, our Campaign must now be focussed on ‘Drop the Bill’. It is unwanted, unnecessary and undemocratic. It should be withdrawn now”.

We are encouraging all members to now write to their MP as soon as possible to tell them not to overrule the Lords’ amendments to the Bill. The Bill returns to the Lords on Monday 25 April before a final vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday 27 April.

Take Action

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