October has seen the issue of the updated version of Fair Deal for staff pensions. The revised guidance, which has been under consultation for some time, comes into effect immediately and will have a significant impact on how pensions issues are dealt with where public sector staff transfer out to a new provider of services.
The updated guidance sees the issue of pension provision being taken in a different direction. Moving away from the requirement for providers to offer a 'broadly comparable' pension scheme the emphasis is now on ensuring that where possible employees involved in first generation transfers will retain their rights to participate in the NHS Pension Scheme (NHSPS). Employees already outsourced under 'Old' Fair Deal will be entitled to rejoin (and potentially transfer benefits into) the NHSPS on the retendering of any public services contract.
With the new Fair Deal in place the Treasury hopes that the new scheme will reduce costs for private providers who instead of having to provide pension benefits in a separate scheme will be able to transfer contributions to the public sector pension schemes. As well as potentially providing a level playing field for independent sector providers this also provides assurance to transferring staff that their pension arrangements will not change.