Halcrow Pensioners Association

Newsletter No. 36


 Newsletter No. 36 : April 2019

This is a newsletter of the Halcrow Pensioners Association. More details of HPA's objectives, organisation and its activities are here. You have been sent this newsletter because you may be a member of the Halcrow Pension Scheme or its successor, HPS2 or be a former member of HPS who has transferred to the PPF. Membership of HPA is open to all interested HPS / HPS2 members and currently costs £10/year.  If you do not wish to receive the HPA newsletters then please email the webmaster to remove your name from the mailing list.

The 2019 HPA Annual General Meeting is Now Open
The 2019 HPA AGM is taking place as a virtual meeting in a sub-forum of the HPA forum to which only paid-up members of HPA are access. The meeting will be the member's annual opportunity to contribute to the direction and operation of HPA. The 2019 AGM is being held between 23rd and 30th April. The proposed schedule, which has been based on the pace of previous AGMs, for the meeting is:

Stage Date
Commencement of AGM  23 - 24 April
Discussion  25 - 27 April
Voting  28 - 30 April

The agenda is here and the AGM documents are available here. Nominations or proposed items to be discussed at the AGM can be posted in the 2019 AGM forum to provide opportunity for others to view and, if appropriate, comment on them. Alternatively, please email them (also any apologies) to the secretary.  The AGM is the opportunity for the members to provide their views on the direction and strategy of HPA.

2019 Subscriptions
For those who haven't already paid, the HPA treasurer looks forward to receiving your 2019 subscription. It remains at £10 as agreed at the 2018 AGM. Payment by bank transfer is preferred because there are no transaction charges although you can also pay by credit card through our PayPal portal. Details of the payment methods are here. Please remember to email the treasurer when you pay your subscription so that funds received can be easily identified. The committee will be recommending to the members attending the AGM to approve that subscriptions paid in 2019 will be valid to the end of 2020.

Access to the 2019 AGM is restricted to those who have paid their 2019 subscription. If you have paid your subscription then please check that you have access to the forum. If you haven't registered for the forum then please do so using the guidance here. If you cannot access the forum or have forgotten your forum registration details then please email the webmaster for assistance.

Volunteers for HPA Committee
The HPA committee is very keen to add new members, particularly those who are deferred pensioner scheme members. If you are interested to help or would like to improve your understanding of pensions-related issues then please contact the HPA secretary who can also provide additional information about the committee activities. Distance is not a problem as most of the committee discussion takes place using the internet.

2019 Halcrovians Reunion Lunch
HPA has been requested by the organising committee of the 2019 Old Halcrovians Reunion to help spread word about the event. This year it will be in the Wiltshire Hotel, Golf and Leisure Resort, Vastern Wharf, Royal Wootton Bassett, Swindon, SN4 7PB at 12:30 for 1:00 pm on Monday 09 September 2019.  The event is open to all former Halcrovians irrespective of whether or not they receive a Halcrow pension and whether or not they worked elsewhere after leaving Halcrow – and their spouses/partners. If you would like to join the event then please contact Yvonne Lock.The meal costs £30 per head including a welcome tea, coffee or orange juice and tea or coffee after the meal.

Trustee's Response to Queries About Overpayment Recovery
HPA wrote to the HPS2 Trustee in November 2018 regarding the policy of recovering any overpayments in HPS2 pensions as it appears that in a limited number of cases this was resulting in significant hardship to some of the scheme members. HPA received a reply from the Trustee in January 2019. The key points are listed here along with HPA comments. Among these points are the claim that the Trustee can exercise discretion over recovery of any overpayment. However, HPA has not heard of anyone benefiting from such discretion. Instead, it appears to be some of the old members who are least capable of contesting any recovery that have suffered most.

Railways Pensions Schemes
The growing deficit in the rail industries pension schemes has recently made the news headlines due to deficit growing from £4.8bn to £7.5bn in just three years. Attention has been drawn to this funding gap due to bidders for new operating franchises not being willing to make open-ended commitments about pension funding. Halcrow Group Ltd is the sponsor of the Halcrow Rail scheme. Page 21 of this report shows there were 240 members and assets of £52M at the end of 2017. There's never been mention of any restructuring due to the company's poor financial health as happened to HPS.

The Future of HPA
The need for HPA continues and among the possible ongoing tasks are:
1.    To closely monitor HPS2 and watch out for Jacobs trying to reduce pensions further or claim back contributions on the grounds of the scheme being over-funded (a few years of higher inflation could create this situation).
2.    To examine or comment on proposals for changes to pension-related laws or regulations.
3.    Take opportunities to press for better supervision of pension schemes and their sponsoring companies.

4.    To follow the potential changes in pension scheme rules arising from the Hampshire vs PPF court decision.

However, this will be open to discussion at the AGM.

Previous Newsletters
If you haven't been with HPA from the start or want to remind yourself of previous events then you can browse through the previous newsletters for which there is a full list here.