Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Isle of Man government's new unified public sector pension scheme won a prestigious industry award at a recent ceremony in London in recognition of the scheme's 'innovation and excellence'.
The accolade, Public Sector Scheme of the Year, was received by the island at an event hosted each year by industry publication Professional Pensions, which recognises the best pension schemes offered throughout the British Isles.
Launched in April 2012, the Isle of Man's ambitious Government Unified Scheme (GUS) is the product of four years' development. The scheme harmonized 15 different pension schemes covering around 10,000 civil and public servants, manual workers, healthcare professionals and firefighters. The aim was to address the crucial issue of sustainability and provide for the long-term security of pensions for employees, whilst making arrangements simpler, more affordable, and less vulnerable to UK changes over which the island has no control.
A dedicated statutory body comprising employer and employee representation and an independent Chair, the Public Sector Pensions Authority (PSPA), was also established to provide effective ongoing governance. The outcome has been a more streamlined, more sustainable scheme that is controlled by the Isle of Manís own government and by the island's legislative assembly, the Tynwald.
GUS overcame fierce competition from schemes offered by a number of UK public authorities, including by the councils of West Yorkshire, Northern Ireland, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. The judging panel of industry experts reportedly selected the Manx scheme for its innovation, focus on member communications, 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 Manís history. A large part of the islandís 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."
Jerry Carter, Chairman of the Public Sector Pensions Authority, added: "Winning the Public Sector Pension Scheme of the Year award is a magnificent achievement and reflects the tremendous amount of work that has been put into the successful introduction of GUS. It is no mean feat to be ranked by expert judges ahead of some huge UK public sector schemes which have massive resources at their disposal. 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 has been taken to listen to the views of all parties. The result of this collaborative effort is an award-winning unified scheme which better meets the needs of the people of the Isle of Man."