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Governance of the NHS Pension Scheme

Details of the arrangements in place to ensure that the scheme remains sustainable for both employers and employees across England and Wales.

23 June 2021

These governance arrangements are made up of two statutory boards, established in 2015 under the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. Both boards are accountable to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (SoS), and each has a separate function:

Scheme Advisory Board

Responsible for providing advice to the SoS on the desirability of changes to the NHS Pension Scheme.

Pension Board

Provides scrutiny and assurance of the administration of the NHS Pension Scheme, and helps the SoS to ensure that the scheme complies with all relevant pensions laws, regulations and directions. 

This web page provides an overview of the Scheme Advisory Board for the NHS Penson Scheme (England and Wales). Further details about the NHS Pension Board can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Responsibilities of the Scheme Advisory Board

The statutory role of the Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) for the NHS Pension Scheme is to provide advice to the SoS on the desirability of changes to the NHS Pension Scheme for England and Wales.

SAB has an ongoing request for advice from the Department of Health of Social Care (DHSC) in the form of an annual work plan, and can also submit advice on a proactive basis.

As part of its role to provide advice on the desirability of changes to the scheme, SAB is responsible for:

  • Engaging with the valuation process of the NHS Pension Scheme and commenting on how it is conducted.
  • Making recommendations on adjustments to the NHS Pension Scheme if, following a valuation, costs breach the employer cost cap.
  • Responding to policy issues.
  • Commenting on proposed changes to scheme regulations.

Membership

SAB is a partnership board, with its members representing NHS employers and NHS trade unions.

The current co-chairs of the board are:

  • Sue Jacques, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, (NHS employers representative)
  • Nicola Lee, Royal College of Nursing, (NHS trade unions representative)

SAB members include:

  • Employer representatives from across England and Wales.

These members are nominated by NHS Employers to offer the breadth of employer representation for the NHS Pension Scheme.

  • Member representatives from the NHS trade unions.

These members are nominated by the staff side of the NHS Staff Council to ensure a broad representation of scheme membership.

As a partnership board, SAB aims to reach decisions by consensus between employer and staff side representatives.

SAB members are supported in their discussions by advisors from the Government’s Actuary Department (GAD), First Actuarial (the board’s current independent actuary) and the NHS Business Services Authority (the scheme administrator).

Representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care (England), the Welsh government and the Scottish government attend SAB meetings as observers.

NHS Employers provides the secretariat function for SAB meetings.

Technical Advisory Group (TAG)

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is a sub-group of SAB. The role of TAG is to provide detailed and technical analysis on the potential impacts of proposed changes to the NHS Pension Scheme, and to make recommendations to SAB as requested. 

TAG also operates as a partnership group, with members representing NHS employers and NHS trade unions.

Annual report 2020-21

The 2020-21 annual report highlights the work of the Scheme Advisory Board between April 2020 and March 2021. The key priorities for SAB over the year were:

  • Responding to HM Treasury’s consultation on removing age discrimination from public sector pension schemes (the McCloud remedy). Read SAB’s response to this consultation.
  • Reviewing the member contribution structure for the NHS Pension Scheme.
  • Commenting on draft directions for the re-run of the cost cap element of the 2016 valuation. 

As well as providing further details about SAB’s work throughout the year, the annual report contains a full list of SAB and TAG members and SAB’s work plan from DHSC for 2020-21. 

Download the report.

Further information

For further information about the Scheme Advisory Board, or to request a copy of annual reports from previous years, please contact pensions@nhsemployers.org