£2m Northamptonshire pension hold back saga takes another turn

The issue of whether NCC can hold back 2m from its annual staff contributions has been ongoing for some time.
The issue of whether NCC can hold back 2m from its annual staff contributions has been ongoing for some time.

Plans by Northamptonshire County Council to take £2m away from its staff pension contribution this year have been postponed.

Chief executive Theresa Grant has sent an email to all staff saying the proposal – which was being put forward under measures to help the council balances its books- has been shelved for the time being.

Chair of the pensions’ committee Cllr Jonathan Ekins said the matter had been taken off the agenda of next Friday’s (Oct 18) pensions meeting because the committee had a number of queries about the proposal.

This is the latest saga in the council’s attempt to try and hold back £2m of its intended £7.5m contribution as a similar move was refused by the committee last April. Then chair of the committee Cllr Lawman was removed from his long-standing post because of his refusal to vote for the plan.

In yesterday’s email to staff Theresa Grant said: “Last week I wrote to you all to make you aware of the proposal to make a technical change to the payments the council makes to the Pension Fund.

“This would have seen a one-off reduction of £2m of employer contributions to the Pension Fund in 2019-20, with the proposal due to be considered by the Pensions Committee on 18th October.

“I am writing to let you know that it has been decided to postpone making a decision on this proposal until later in this financial year.

“While this proposal would have had no impact in any way on your benefits for the scheme we are aware that there were some concerns raised and we are taking time to consider these before bringing the proposal before the committee.”

Cllr Ekins said the committee had been given reassurances that the move was legal.

He said: “The committee had a number of questions along the lines of when the deferred money would be repaid.

“The matter will be coming back to committee once all the questions have been answered.

“I have been assured there will be no impact to members pensions.”

The authority is facing a £4.4m overspend and sees the pension fund as a way to bring down the deficit.