Speaking at the South Eastern HSCT SDS Stakeholder Engagement event in Downpatrick on 10 June 2015, Geraldine Fleming, the SDS Project Team lead from the Health and Social Care Board gave an assurance that a provision for the costs of Workplace Pensions was being included in the cost of employing personal assistants as part of the model being used for the introduction of Self Directed Support. Direct Payments is an integral part of the options which will be available under to disabled people under Self Directed Support. (See separate news article on Self Directed Support.)
It is very good news that the problem of funding Workplace Pensions is being addressed at a high level within the Health and Social Care Board. Geraldine also confirmed that they were aware that, in addition to the basic cost of the Employer's pension contribution, there will be considerable additional costs arising from auto enrolment and registration, setting up and administering the pensions.
CILNI will now watch to see if the “provision” made by the Health and Social Care Board, operating through the 5 Health and Social Care Trusts will be sufficient to meet the full cost of Workplace Pensions.
The complex requirements and significant costs of Workplace Pensions Is a real worry for disabled people who employ personal assistants to meet their care and support needs.
We were delighted that Radio 4's Money Box programme chose to lead with this important issue on their programme on 23 May 2015 and followed it up with an update on Saturday, 30 May 2015, to which CILNI made a contribution. A longer interview had been recorded in Belfast the previous day but, unfortunately, much of the content explaining the different arrangements in Northern Ireland and our particular problems, did not survive the final edit. Both programmes will be available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer for some time.
BBC Radio 4 have now followed it up with a 30 minute Money Box Live special on the subject of auto enrolment for Workplace Pensions at 3 PM on Wednesday, 17 June 2015. You can listen to this programme on the BBC iPlayer or by clicking here.
This new Government Workplace pensions initiative, to ensure that people to provide for their retirement, could potentially have a big negative impact on the existing policy of providing direct payments to disabled individuals. Unless adequate funding is made available, the 2 policies could potentially be in direct conflict with the danger that many disabled people will no longer be able to lead independent and active lives. This in turn will result in an increased costly demands on the NI health and social services. Major benefits to both disabled individuals and society as a whole will be lost as a result of any false economy in failing to adequately fund these additional pension costs. (The initial cost of funding workplace pensions will be relatively low but, as the contribution rates rise progressively over coming years, the problem will magnify.)
CILNI has been flagging up this important issue for several years now and it would be good to get an official assurance that full funding will be provided in Northern Ireland to meet the costs of auto enrolment and registration, setting up and administering workplace pensions. Otherwise there is a real danger that direct payments may cease to be an attractive and/or or even viable option.
The law on workplace pensions has changed. All Employers are now legally required to provide and make payments into a pension for certain workers.
“Does this apply to me?” If you employ a Personal Assistant it almost certainly does. Read onto find out.
Auto Enrolment and Workplace Pensions
A new law means that every Employer, with at least one paid Worker/Personal Assistant, will be required to automatically enroll some or all of their Personal Assistants (PAs), depending on age and salary level, into a pension scheme that meets certain minimum standards. Some PAs will also have the right to ask their employer to enroll them into the pension scheme. This is called automatic enrolment.
Depending on the worker’s age and salary level, Employers may be required to make contributions to this pension scheme, adding to the contributions made by their PAs.
Auto Enrolment is being phased in between now and 2018 with Employers being allocated a “staging date” which sets out when the Employer must have a pension scheme in place. Employers will receive a letter from the Pensions Regulator to let them know their staging date 12 months in advance. (Note for CILNI Payroll Users – if you get a letter advising of your staging date please forward immediately to CILNI or direct to Pauley Business Services)
You can also find your ‘staging date’ by clicking on the following link: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date.aspx
The Pensions Regulator, a public body set up by the UK government to regulate all UK workplace pension schemes, has provided brief information entitled “The essential guide to automatic enrolment” for people who employ workers for their own care and support. To read or download the guide, click here.
Alternatively you can get it by going to the Pension Regulator’s own website at: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/The_essential_guide_for_people_who_employ_their_own_care_and_support.pdf
The purpose of this article is only to provide you with some initial information regarding automatic enrolment and Workplace Pensions. More detailed information will follow shortly on this website and in the form of new information leaflets/sheets.
CILNI Payroll Service
The CILNI Payroll Service will be able to provide service users with all the support and guidance that they need and take you through the process step-by-step. The service has a small number of service users with a staging date in the next six months and we will be taking the opportunity during this period to conduct a pilot study during which the payroll service team will be able to learn exactly what needs to be done with regard to enrolment, how it will work within the payroll, the work needed to set up pension schemes, the records to be kept and the completion of online returns.
Once we know exactly what is involved, will be able to fine tune our systems. Unfortunately, the extra work needed will inevitably give rise to additional costs for the payroll service, both for the initial enrolment of PAs and the setup of the pension schemes. As the CILNI Payroll Service is run on a full cost recovery basis, and we would not be allowed to cross-subsidise it from our core statutory funding, this will probably result in an increased charge for the service.
We will update you further once we have been able to assess the full cost implications of the new Workplace Pensions on the CILNI Payroll Service.
Important note: If you do your own payroll, or if you just want more information at this stage, the Pension Regulator has created a section on their website dealing with the most common questions on automatic enrolment and Workplace Pensions. To see these questions, please click here. Http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/automatic-enrolment-enquiries