Halcrow Pensioners Association

Newsletter No. 39


 Newsletter No. 39 : January 2020

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.

Burderop Park - The End
Halcrow staff working in Burderop Park were informed in mid-January 2020 that the office will be vacated by the end of March 2020 and staff will be transferred to Jacobs’ offices in Winnersh (on the London side of Reading) and Bristol. Closure of the Burderop Park office had been expected since it was sold to a developer in 2015 but previous information given to staff was that Jacobs would maintain an office in Swindon so the need for a big commute to another town came as a shock.

2020 Annual HPA Subscription
The 2019 AGM voted in favour of continuing the £10 annual subscription and payments are now due. You may be wondering if there is a long-term need for HPA but, with the recent change in company ownership we need to remain vigilant and, if necessary, in a position to take action. For example, the HPS2 trustee board may need encouragement to implement the Hampshire vs PPF court decision and ensure that the “better than PPF promise” made in the offer to HPS members in 2016 is honoured. There are also changes in pension legislation under consideration and major financial uncertainties ahead.

The HPA committee therefore asks that members continue to support HPA, both through their postings to the forum (which has been very quiet) and their annual subscription. The treasurer looks forward to receiving your subscriptions for 2020 (payment methods are here). Please remember to email the treasurer when you pay your subscription so that funds received can be easily identified.

Change of Sponsor of HPS2
On 20 January 2020 the HPS2 trustee posted a notice to scheme members on the HPS2 website advising members that the trustee has agreed to a change in the company that sponsors HPS2, from Halcrow Group Limited to Jacobs UK Limited effective 20 December 2019. It is currently unclear if this notice has also been posted to all scheme members. Given that the Halcrow Group accounts  have, for several years, showed that the profit is insufficient to cover the pension scheme obligations this change should be for the better.
The 2018 HGL accounts have not yet been submitted to Companies House at the time of preparing this newsletter. It has to be wondered if the pensions liability has been delaying the signing off of these Halcrow Group accounts. The Jacobs accounts for 2018 show that the company has been trying to tidy up other inherited pension schemes.

The Halcrow Foundation
HPA has been asked to draw members’ attention to the Halcrow Foundation which is alive and well and plans to carry on doing good work well into the future. The Foundation is a registered charity which used to be funded by annual donations by Halcrow and then was given the residual money remaining in the Halcrow Tust when it was closed but also works with other funding partners. The Foundation has its own website and recently published a newsletter which highlights some of the foundation's charitable activities. 

Meetings of the Occupational Pensioners’ Alliance (OPA)
HPA is a member of the Occupational Pensioners’ Alliance which has a website here. The Alliance holds regular meetings usually in Sunbury-on-Thames. Notes and presentations from previous meetings are here and details of future meetings are given here.  One or more of the HPA committee members usually attend these meetings and other HPA members may attend – please contact the HPA secretary if you are interested.

The Pensions Action Group
Another organisation fighting for pensioners’ interests is the Pensions Action Group who have a website here. This organisation operates as a closed group forum which anyone can apply to join (two of the HPA committee have) and many of the participants have, like HPA members, suffered significant reductions in their pension entitlements.

The Triennial Review
The triennial review of HPS2 is now (effective 31 December 2019) due and analyses the current and expected future balance of scheme assets and liabilities. We wait with interest to see what the scheme actuary thinks the future will hold and whether the new scheme sponsor willingly agrees to the updated contributions schedule.  

The Future of HPA
The need for HPA continues and among the possible ongoing tasks to look after HPA members' interests are:
1.    To keep HPA members informed about HPS2 and other pension-related matters.

2.    T
o closely monitor HPS2, the HPS2 Trustee and Jacobs UK the scheme sponsoring company to ensure that adequate contributions are made to the pension schemes. This could soon become a significant risk as the ongoing HPS2 triennial review could identify the need for increased company contributions.
3.    To examine or comment on proposals for changes to pension-related laws or regulations.
4.    Take opportunities to press for better supervision of pension schemes and their sponsoring companies.

5.    To follow the potential changes in pension scheme rules arising from the Hampshire vs PPF and Bauer court decisions.

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.