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Builth Wells Golf Club was the venue on Tuesday 26th September for the fifth DPP NARPO Golf Day – held two weeks later than the previous four competitions. During the days leading up to the eagerly awaited contest, a watchful eye was kept on the weather forecast with all of us hoping that the weather we have been blessed with in previous years (last year’s thunderstorm apart), would prevail.
 
DPP NARPO GOLF DAY 2017
 
The competitors (L to R): David Jones (Sponsor), Derek Bloomfield, Phil Hopkins, Steve Cole, Alan Jones, Mike Benbow,  Huw Rees, Phil Small and Gary Evans.
 
We needn’t have worried – the day dawned fair and fair it stayed all day – perfect weather for golf.  A gentle breeze, somewhat cloudy with numerous sunny spells and mild, meaning shirt sleeves and shorts (for some) was the dress code.  What more could one ask for?
 
A few unavoidable late withdrawals meant a slight tweaking of the draw, but after coffee, a bacon bap (to be pedantic, an egg bap was produced for the vegetarian among us) and swapping yarns, it was time to tee off.  
 
There was one newcomer to the event, Steve Cole who travelled all the way from ‘Sunny Pembrokeshire’ let it slip that he had played the picturesque course only six weeks previously.  He maintained that he had merely travelled up from Tenby to caddy for his wife Pam, who had qualified to play in a competition at Builth and he took the opportunity to play a practice round. The rest of us agreed that the real reason was for him to have a sneak preview of the course in an effort to improve his chances of victory!
 
The rounds passed relatively uneventfully, Phil Small was delighted that he was drawn in a different group to me, thus minimising the chance of me hitting him with a golf ball as happened last year.
 
DPP NARPO GOLF DAY 2017
 
Fore! - Organiser Phil Hopkins about to tee off.
 
And now for what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for – the results! As mentioned, this was the fifth event, and there are now five different names inscribed on the prestigious winner’s trophy.  Mike Benbow brought the highly polished cup which he won last year, hoping to be the first person to retain the splendid trophy, but sadly (for him!) it was not to be. Gary Evans romped home to the winner’s enclosure by a clear two points.  It was tighter competition for second place, with the runner up’s prize having to be decided on a count back - I am delighted to report that the runner up was a certain Phil Hopkins. 
 
However, Phil Small, the person to miss out, more than made up for his extreme disappointment, by taking home the prizes of lowest gross score, nearest the pin and longest drive. Steve Cole had hit a longer drive, but was persuaded by the other members of his group that the rough where his ball had ended up did not form part of the fairway – a necessary factor to conform to the rules!
 
DPP NARPO GOLF DAY 2017
 
Left: A delighted (but slightly fuzzy) Gary Evans - winner of the main competition
 
Right: Gary Evans flanked by the other main prizewinners - Huw Rees and Phil Small.
 
The day concluded with the eagerly awaited prize giving and an excellent meal, during which the stories which had commenced over morning coffee were continued. Everyone agreed that next year’s Golf Day should again be held at the same venue, on or around the same date. As soon as this is confirmed, an e mail will be circulated and an item put on the website so that the date can be marked in next year’s diary.
 
Huge thanks go to our sponsor, David Jones from Hay on Wye, for his continued support of the event. Thanks also to the management of Builth Wells Golf Club for allowing us to use their facilities.
 
Phil Hopkins
Please write to your MP to sign the Early Day Motion (EDM) on Later Life Ambitions. This EDM welcomes Later Life Ambitions, a campaign organisation that represents over a quarter of a million pensioners through three partner organisations; the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance, and the National Association of Retired Police Officers. A template letter can be found HERE.
 
Later Life Ambitions brings together the collective voices of over a quarter of a million pensioners through the National Association of Retired Police Officers, The National Federation of Occupational Pensioners and the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance. Our members have ambitious aspirations for the next generation of pensioners.
 
From fair pensions to safe and sustainable care services, and from accessible housing to regular bus services to promote independence. We require bold and forward-looking action from our political leaders.
With your support, we want to change the terms of the debate – to focus on the ambitions of pensioners rather than the perceived ‘costs’ to the rest of society. So we urge you to join us in calling for an aspirational and ambitious future for those in later life.
 
 
 
The following has been received from Steve Edwards, Deputy CEO at NARPO HQ:
 
The CPI figure for September 2015 dictates the Pension Increases in April of the following year, as the figure is a negative it will mean that all public sector pensions will remain unchanged, as will NARPO subscriptions which are also linked to it.
 
However, the State pension is different, the Government have set a triple lock and this means that the state pension will increase by the higher of three factors, CPI, Wages Index or 2.5%, in this case it will be 2.5% from April 2016 (Subject to Confirmation)
It is too late to remove the other item about the above matter from the latest issue of the DPP NARPO newsletter, however, the up to date information on the subject is as follows:
 
All the officers affected by the decision should have received by Monday 7th December a letter from the Pensions Department giving details of the amount payable. No action need be taken, unless the officer wishes to have the amount paid into a different account from that into which their pension is paid. Otherwise, the stipulated amount will be paid into their bank account on 18th December 2015.
 
If this is indeed the case, I shall write to Mr Tony Williams (Pensions Officer), on behalf of DPP NARPO thanking him for his department’s efforts in keeping the promise made at our Branch meeting held at Saundersfoot in early October that the money would be paid by Christmas.
 
Phil Hopkins (Chairman DPP NARPO)
Some members have started receiving their additional commutation figures and discharge letters and as such NARPO have obtained legal advice on the validity of the discharge letters and have been advised:
 
To be clear, the only potential respondents to a further claim are GAD and the Home Office. The only relevant discharge relates to a possible claim against them. The request for a discharge against GAD and the Home Office is consistent with GAD guidance on settlements that I have seen. Naming the force or any pension fund is unnecessary, but harmless. The first point to make is that any form of discharge is not called for. The Home Office is obliged to pay the additional commutation payment under the Police Pensions Regulations. GAD is obliged to pay any tax due, and to pay interest, following the Milne determination. If the Home Office refused to pay without a discharge it would be in breach of the Regulations; if GAD refused to pay without a discharge, the Ombudsman would force it to. That would take time however, and interest is only running at bank base rate. If the discharge letters are acceptable, there is no harm in signing them and getting earlier payment, even if the discharge is unnecessary.
 
The advice also suggests that members should check the calculation made by the administrator and if not shown on the letter members should request that calculation so they can be satisfied that the amount due is correct before signing.

For information of retirees that retired between 2001 and 2006 and qualify for the back payment. Clive has spoken to Mr Tony Williams, Pensions Officer at FHQ, the tables have now come through to enable calculations to be made, they are more complex than first thought and work is ongoing to sort it all out. Those retirees that retired between the relevant dates have been identified and Mr Williams will write to those retirees in the near future to provide an update and timescales.

The following has been received from Mr Tony Williams, (Force Pensions Officer) at DPP FHQ:
 
Following careful consideration of the issue of the discharge notice, the Government have decided that, given the particular circumstances of this case, the use of discharge notices is NOT required in relation to these payments. They have also told the Forces that we can make payment to the individuals affected in line with the guidance provided by the Government Actuary’s Department.
I can confirm that we have completed the figures and have sent them away to be authorised by GAD. As soon as the figures get confirmed, between Carmarthenshire County Council (Pension administrators) and myself (Force Pension Officer) we will start to make the payments to the individuals affected.
 
Finally, I would like to thank you all for your patience. 
NARPO have now received a response from the Home Office in relation to the commutation factor dispute in which they confirm that Force Pension Administrators are now working to identify those affected, calculate the sums owed and ensuring that payments are made as soon as possible.
 
Pensions Ombudsman determination (W Milne) – commutation factors update 3rd July 2015 .
 
The Pensions Ombudsman’s determination on the Milne complaint was published on Friday 15 May 2015, and GAD issued a Technical Bulletin on that date giving an outline of the case and the Ombudsman’s ruling. GAD and the Government accepted the Ombudsman’s determination in full: GAD has complied with the required actions in relation to the specific case of Mr Milne and is working with the relevant Government departments to facilitate redress in other cases. GAD has prepared the required tables of factors and shared them with the relevant Government departments. However, while these tables are a significant element in the determination of redress, in themselves they do not provide enough information to enable administrators to deal with specific cases. To ensure administrators have all the information they need, GAD is also preparing detailed guidance for calculating redress in a range of different circumstances. This guidance has now been prepared by GAD and is currently being reviewed. It includes information about when redress should be provided in the form of an additional lump sum and when in the form of an increase to the pension being paid, as well as how to handle cases where the pensioner has died. The guidance will shortly be finalised and issued to scheme managers for them to pass to the scheme administrators. We anticipate that this will be completed soon and certainly be available by the end of July to help scheme managers with their process. GAD expects that the guidance and accompanying factors will be published once they are passed to the scheme administrators, and GAD’s current position is that the factors will not be published separately from the finalised guidance. It is important to note that GAD has prepared the guidance in its professional role as actuarial adviser to the schemes concerned. GAD is not able to provide advice to individual members. Any queries from members concerning the process of calculating and paying redress should be directed to the relevant pension scheme.