As the Trustee, we focus on maintaining the security of your UKRF benefits and ensuring the best experience for you as a member of the Fund.

Here’s what we’ve been doing this year to progress these goals.

We’re monitoring the numbers

Every year we track the UKRF’s finances to help ensure we have enough in assets to pay for members’ benefits (our liabilities). Our latest interim financial check shows that the UKRF remains in surplus, meaning we’re expected to have sufficient assets to meet our liabilities. The amount of this surplus was £2 billion at 30 September 2023, giving us a funding level of 109% (up slightly from 108% in 2022).

While this check is only a snapshot in time and funding levels will fluctuate, we are happy with this position. The value of the UKRF’s assets has fallen over this period (like many other UK schemes) but so has the cost of our liabilities. Consequently, our funding position remains resilient, demonstrating that our long-term strategy of aligning the UKRF’s assets to expected liabilities is working.

As part of our interim check, we also tested against strict criteria the agreement made at the last triennial valuation to pause Barclays’ contributions and can confirm that this pause will continue for a further 12 months. Barclays remains obliged to provide financial support should we need it in the future, including reinstating collateral should the Scheme fall back into deficit. Read more about these arrangements and why, when it comes to our funding position, down still means up.

£2bn surplus at
30 September 2023

We’re focused on investments

Protecting your defined benefits and investing responsibly

As stewards of the UKRF’s defined benefit assets, we have a responsibility to protect long-term investment value, with the overall aim of delivering your benefits. We continue to work on achieving the high standards of the UK’s Stewardship Code. This is a voluntary code of practice which sets out governing principles for those investing money on behalf of UK savers and pensioners. Our 2022 Stewardship Code Report looks at how we’re rising to the challenge.

We’re also constantly monitoring potential issues that could affect the UKRF’s ability to achieve sustainable long-term funding for the Scheme. Climate change is one of the biggest risks we face. It’s our ambition for the UKRF’s investments to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and be net zero carbon by 2050 or sooner. Our first formal climate report outlines what we’ve done so far, and what we are doing now, to reach our climate goals.

We’re checking your defined contribution options

If you’re a member of a defined contribution section (like the Afterwork Investment Account, RIS and PIP), the value of your benefits is affected by investment performance. Because of this, we keep a close watch on the UKRF’s fund range and every three years we review our investment options to ensure they’re still appropriate. Our review this year was confirmed that we didn’t need to make any significant changes. More about this review is included in the Defined Contribution Chair’s statement in our 2023 report and accounts.

When did you last check?

Remember, it’s also up to you to regularly check your investment choices to make sure they’re suited to your attitudes to risk and future plans. to find out more about your options, including your Investment Guide and fund factsheets.

We’re working to improve your experience

An ongoing priority for the Trustee is to look at how we communicate and understand what we can do to make your experience better. This year we concentrated on:

  • What happens when you retire. There are a few steps you need to complete before you can access your UKRF benefits, and the whole process can take many months. For your defined benefits, our My retirement timeline tool makes it easier to see what those steps are and when you need to complete them by, if you want to receive your benefits by a certain date. (click on the Retirement Planning tab) to see what your retirement timeline looks like.
  • Extra help for those who need it. Every year the UKRF’s administrator, WTW, receives calls from members about their benefits – we received 68,000 calls in the year to 30 September 2023, plus members contact us by post and email too. Some queries are relatively straightforward, including requests to run a retirement quote or change personal details. Others are more sensitive and complex, like payments on death. We’ve been analysing all these interactions to see how we can improve and have established a dedicated member care team. This team is made up of experienced administrators who can offer bespoke support to those with more complex or sensitive questions, while freeing up the existing administrative team to meet the more straightforward requests faster. Remember, you can do many of the day-to-day actions like getting a quote and changing your contact details yourself, any time you like, as your online pension account is Open all hours.
  • Spreading the news. Instead of providing you with an update once a year, we’ve been adding topical news to the Newsroom throughout the year. For example, From phishing to vishing looks at ways to spot (and stop) scammers and the updated article on Living with high inflation looks at the support available for those affected by the ongoing high cost of living. We’ll keep adding to the Newsroom during 2024, so please do keep checking in every now and then to see what’s new.

Retire online

Before you can retire, there’s lots of paperwork to complete. To help make this process clearer and faster, later this year we expect to launch an online system that allows most members to complete their defined benefit paperwork electronically. We will let you know when this is live.

We’re working for you

To look after your UKRF benefits effectively, we need an experienced and diverse Trustee Board. Since my last update, we’ve been joined by two new directors who bring valuable skills and knowledge to the Board – welcome Jason Morgan and Bridget Houghton.

We’re also currently selecting a new Member Nominated Director to join the Board later this year. Thank you to everyone who has participated in this process; we will provide an update on this in the Newsroom in the second half of 2024.

We also said goodbye to Sian McIntyre and Lawrence Dickinson. The UKRF has been fortunate to have them on the team for many years, and their expertise and valuable contribution has helped ensure the Board has maintained high levels of governance, stability and excellence. Thank you for all your hard work and I wish you every success for the future.

Finally, the UKRF relies on the support of lots of other people, including our executive team, the UKRF’s administrators, and our professional advisers. Thank you for your efforts to ensure the UKRF continues to run smoothly.

Eileen Haughey
Chair of the Trustee Board
February 2024

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