Attendees: Gloria De Piero MP, Nick Smith MP, Stephanie Peacock MP, Dan Jarvis MP, Ian Lavery MP, Chris Cheetham, Paul Trickett, Bobby Clelland (Elected Trustee), Dan Whincup, Andy Gibbons, Holly Nelson (Coal Pension Trustees [C.P.T.]. Nicky Wilson, Wayne Thomas, Chris Kitchen, Alan Spencer, David Hamilton (NUM) Rob Skelton (First Actuarial).
Apologies: Grahame Morris MP, Chris Elmore MP, Yvette Cooper MP, Dennis Skinner MP.
The meeting convened by Gloria De Piero MP was held, 26 June 2018, in meeting room 4A in the House of Lords and was a joint meeting between the Labour Group of supporting MP’s, the NUM (with Actuarial advisor) and the Trustees of the MPS (with CPT advisors). The purpose of the meeting was to present the NUM commissioned report previously discussed with the Labour MP’s group to the MPS Trustees and their advisors.
The aim is to find common ground that will enable a joint approach to Government for a review of the current surplus sharing arrangement with a view to improving benefits to Scheme Beneficiaries. Following discussing the NUM commissioned Report it was agreed that the co-author of the report present at the meeting would hold further meetings with CPT to explain the assumptions used in the report and gain a better insight into the assumptions used by the MPS actuary in the tri-annual valuation and scheme rules. It was agreed that this meeting would take place within the next couple of weeks.
The MPS Trustees present informed the meeting that they had approached the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and discussions had taken place in respect of possible improvements to Scheme benefits. The improvements the Scheme Trustees were seeking centred around guaranteeing the bonus payments currently in payment. While this would be a step in the right direction it was felt on the basis of the NUM commissioned report from other parties present that a more substantial ask should be made than that of just guaranteeing the current bonuses in payment.
Although discussions had been started with BEIS no conclusion was reached and the Trustees had decided to suspend talks to concentrate on the tri-annual valuation the results of which should be known in the next few weeks. Once the valuation results are known it is the Trustees intention to restart the discussions with BEIS.
While any improvement to Scheme benefits is welcome the NUM’s view remains on the basis of the report that the focus of the review and future benefit improvements should not be based on what is fair between the Government and the Scheme for how future surpluses should be split but what is in the best interests of Scheme members. The focus of future discussions should be on what is a fair price and value for money for the Scheme beneficiaries for the Government in return for the guarantee, a guarantee that so far has not required the government to put in a single penny of new money into the scheme but enabled it to benefit by taking £billions out, not a bad return for taking on such a low level of risk.
It was clear from the meeting that there is still a significant amount of work to do in order to reach an agreed position that would enable the parties to present a united front to Government. The ask of government should be to improve benefits for Scheme members in the short term as it is now that they need the money while recognising that the government will always be there and can wait for it. That the government receives what is a fair payment based on the level of risk it has taken on by providing the guarantee which on the basis of the report should be far less than the current 50%.