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A New Look Local Government Pension Scheme for employees in England and Wales from 1 April 2008
If you were already paying into the LGPS on 31 March 2008 and you continued to have a contract of employment on 1 April you will have been automatically transferred to the New Scheme.
Let's take a look at the main changes that have been made to the LGPS in England and Wales from 1 April 2008. These changes do not apply to councillors in England and Wales.
Joining the LGPS
From 1 April 2008 to be able to join the LGPS you need a contract of employment that's for at least 3 months and you need to be under age 75.
New employees who are eligible are automatically brought into the Scheme, except for employees of admitted bodies who can join by completing an application form.
If you have previously opted out of membership you can opt back into the Scheme provided you have a contract of employment that's for at least 3 months and you are under age 75.
New contribution rates
In the new scheme, instead of most people paying a standard contribution rate of 6%, there are different contribution rates for different pay bands. These new rates have been designed to give more equality between the cost and benefits of scheme membership.
The new rates are between 5.5 and 7.5% of your pensionable pay. The rate you pay depends on which pay band you fall into.
If you work part-time, your rate will be based on the whole time pay rate for your job, although you will only pay contributions on the pay you actually earn.
How are my benefits worked out in the new scheme?
The New LGPS is still a final salary scheme. This means that your benefits are normally based on your final year's pay and the number of years you have been a member of the Scheme.
How your benefits are worked out when you retire changed from 1 April 2008.
Does the new scheme change when I can retire?
The scheme's normal pension age remains at 65. If you continue working beyond age 65, you can stay in the scheme but you must draw your benefits by age 75. Benefits drawn after 65 will be increased.
To be entitled to retirement benefits you must have been a member of the LGPS for at least 3 months or have transferred in other pension rights.
Changes have been made to the earliest age benefits can be paid if you are made redundant, are retired on efficiency grounds, take early retirement or take flexible retirement with your employer's consent. The ill-health retirement benefits package has also been changed.
Improved death benefits
Provided you pay into the LGPS on or after 1 April 2008, there have been improvements to the Scheme's benefits if you die.
Increasing your benefits
Under the new scheme, changes have been made from 1 April 2008 to the ways you can buy extra LGPS benefits.
One of the main attractions of the LGPS is that your employer pays a large part of the cost of providing the benefits.
It is however important that overall the scheme remains affordable, so increases or decreases in the cost of providing the scheme may, in future, need to be shared between members and employers. This will be in accordance with government guidance.