Isle of Man Govt’s unified pension scheme wins top award

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RADICAL reform of the government workers pension scheme have received a prestigious accolade.

Industry publication Professional Pensions hosts an annual awards ceremony to celebrate the best pension funds and managers in the British Isles.

At the 2012 event in London the Isle of Man Government Unified Scheme (GUS) secured the top accolade in the Public Sector Scheme of the Year category.

The unified scheme, which came into effect in April this year, saw off stiff competition from a number of large UK public authorities, including West Yorkshire, Northern Ireland, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

A judging panel of industry experts selected the Isle of Man scheme for its innovation, focus on member communications, partnership working, administrative efficiencies and excellence in governance. It was also noted that the Isle of Man had achieved major public sector pension changes which are still several years away from implementation in the UK.

Ian Murray, chief executive of the Public Sector Pensions Authority, said: ‘This has been a real team effort over the past four years, with many people and organisations contributing to the successful implementation of GUS, including several government departments and with support and input from trade unions.

‘In terms of driving forward change, it has been one of the biggest projects undertaken in the Isle of Man’s history. A large part of the island’s population is linked to the public service either by direct employment, marriage, retired ex-employees or other family relationships. Introducing changes that affected such a major element of the local community was always going to be a challenge. To achieve this degree of change against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and low or zero wage increases has been even more remarkable.’

Work on GUS started in 2008 at the request of Tynwald and centred on the harmonisation of 15 different pension schemes covering around 10,000 civil and public servants, manual workers, doctors, nurses, GPs, dentists, ancillary NHS staff and fire fighters.

The aim was to create a more streamlined and more sustainable scheme that was simpler to administer, more affordable, and less vulnerable to UK changes over which the island has no control.

Full consultation took place and a dedicated statutory body comprising employer and employee representation and an independent chairman, the Public Sector Pensions Authority (PSPA), was also set up.

Jerry Carter, chairman of the authority, said the award was a magnificent achievement. He said: ‘Bringing together 15 different schemes has been a unique and complex challenge. It effectively started from scratch, with a totally blank sheet of paper. Change of this magnitude inevitably generates strong opinions and great care was taken to listen to the views of all parties.’

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