Capita criticised for Barnet pension scheme administration performance

Councillor, Alison Moore, has criticised Capita for its administration and payroll of the Barnet Council pension scheme following a report that highlighted its shortcomings.

The report, for August 2020, showed that Capita’s service level agreement attainment was 86.5 per cent, down from 94.5 per cent in July and below the 95 per cent level used as a common measure in the pensions industry.

It also revealed that management had to reissue 1,600 annual benefits statements as the annual earnings included in these statements were for 13 months instead of 12.

Death and retirement case performance levels for August 2020 stood at 74.5 per cent and 77.5 per cent respectively, according to the report

At the latest Barnet Pension Fund Committee meeting, Moore said that Capita is only resolving around three-quarters of death and retirement cases, which she described as “genuinely shocking”.

“The incompetence over this is somewhat breath-taking,” Moore continued. “I do think it presents a shocking picture. It continues a litany of failures and underperformance by Capita.

“I do not know in what world it is acceptable for people who are in grief or retiring and trying to organise their finances to be subjected to their delays. It is really not acceptable.”

In response, a Capita spokesperson said: “We are in the process of resolving all cases, but due to a sizeable amount of outstanding casework, where information is outstanding from third parties, this is taking slightly longer than usual. We apologise for any delays people are experiencing at this time.”

Capita already lost its contract to administer the pension scheme in February, with Barnet Councillors voting unanimously to switch to the fund being run by the West Yorkshire Pension Fund at the beginning of November.

The report stated that there remain “significant deficiencies” in controls to endure the accuracy of member data and it continued to identify members that were listed as active but it was receiving no contributions for.

Furthermore, it noted that Capita had not performed checks over the completeness and accuracy of contributions.

The decline in performance was partially attributed to staff absence and a failure within Capita’s IT systems in August, which led to the pensions administration system being unavailable for two days.

“To have issues of understaffing and a two-day IT outage is just reminiscent of problems we’ve had in earlier years. I find it really worrying,” added Moore.

The report stated that it is now unlikely that Capita will manage to complete work on a remediation plan before the scheme transitions away from the administrator, despite instructions to treat the work as a priority.

The committee agreed to commission a report into the way Capita’s contract was terminated with the council, financial matters relating to the performance of the contract and any costs that the pension fund may be liable for.

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