Education bodies to be given ‘flexibility’ on LGPS access

Education corporations, sixth form colleges and higher education institutions may no longer be required to offer non-teaching staff access to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

In a consultation published yesterday, 8 May, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it wanted to explore giving each ‘corporation’ the “flexibility” to decide whether to offer the LGPS to all or some eligible employees.

Despite this, the government said it recognised that offering LGPS was “a valuable tool for retention”.

The proposal seeks to reflect a number of changes in the higher and further education sectors, including the shift towards a “non-public sector status” and a “responsibility” for these bodies to determine their own business models.

The consultation said: “We propose to remove the requirement for further education corporations, sixth form college corporations and higher education corporations in England to offer new employees access to the LGPS.

“Under our proposals each corporation would have the flexibility to decide whether to offer the LGPS to all or some eligible new employees.

“We recognise that corporations will continue to view offering LGPS as a valuable and important tool in recruitment and retention strategies, but the flexibility as to when to use the tool should be for the corporations themselves.”

Under the Education Act 2011, education and sixth form corporations were taken out of the general government sector, while the Technical and Further Education Act 2017 introduced a statutory insolvency regime, meaning such corporations can now become legally insolvent.

“As such, these bodies may value greater flexibility in determining their own pension arrangements for their own workforces. Indeed, some respondents to the Department for Education consultation, Insolvency regime for further education and sixth form colleges held in 2017-18, requested that the obligation to offer LGPS to all eligible staff be removed,” it added.

Those already in employment before the regulations come into force have a protected right to the membership of the scheme the consultation said.

In a separate proposal, the government is seeking responses on proposed plans to move local fund valuations from its current three-year cycle to a four-year cycle, to bring it in line with other public service schemes.

It said the move “allows for outcomes of each valuation to be looked at in parallel and for Government to make consistent decisions for the public sector as a whole”.

The consultation will run until 31 July 2019.

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