Councillors in England cannot join the LGPS. Those councillor members in England who were members of the Scheme on 31 March 2014 were able to remain in the LGPS until the end of their term of office. They were not able to re-join the LGPS is any subsequent term of office.
Councillors in Wales continue to have access to the LGPS if they are offered membership under the council’s scheme of allowances.
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Councillors in England
This section provides an update for councillors in England. You should read it in conjunction with the Full guide to the LGPS for councillors.
Access to the LGPS
Councillors in England could not join the LGPS from 1 April 2014. This also applied to elected mayors in England, the Mayor of London and members of the London Assembly. Those who were already members of the LGPS could remain in the Scheme until the end of the term of office they were in on 31 March 2014. A term of office ends on the fourth day after the ordinary day of election of councillors. A councillor’s membership would have ended earlier if they reached age 75 or elected to opt out of the Scheme.
Councillors are not allowed to re-join the LGPS when they are re-elected.
Police and Crime Commissioners are eligible for membership of the LGPS.
Options on leaving the Scheme
If you are a councillor or elected mayor who has left the LGPS, you can take your pension benefits after you reach age 55. You must take your pension benefits before age 75.
If you qualified for pension benefits in the LGPS but did not take them when you left the Scheme, you are entitled to deferred benefits. These deferred benefits will be paid at age 65 unless:
- you choose to defer payment beyond that age, up to age 75 at the latest
- you elect to have them paid between age 55 and age 65
- you request payment between age 50 and 55 – you would need your council’s consent and you would have to pay a tax charge if your pension is paid before age 55
- you become permanently incapable of discharging efficiently the duties of the office you had held because of ill health or infirmity of mind or body. If this happens, the deferred benefits can be paid immediately, whatever your age.
If your pension is paid after age 65, it will be paid at an increased rate. If your pension is paid before age 65, it may be reduced for early payment. Some or all of your benefits may be protected from the reduction if you joined the Scheme before 1 October 2006. Your council can agree not to make a reduction on compassionate grounds.
Please see the early and late retirement sections of the Full guide to the LGPS for councillors for more information.
If your deferred benefits are paid early due to your permanent ill health, they would not be reduced for early payment.
You may be able to transfer the value of your deferred benefits to another pension scheme. Please see the ‘Ceasing to be a councillor before retirement’ section of the Full guide to the LGPS for councillors for more information.
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Councillors in Wales
As a councillor of a Welsh county council or county borough council, you can join the LGPS as long as:
- you are offered membership of the Scheme under the council’s scheme of allowances, and
- you are under age 75.
It is up to you whether you decide to join the LGPS. It is important that you complete a joining form if you decide to become a Scheme member. You can join the LGPS if you are already paying into another pension scheme.
This section provides some basic information about the LGPS for councillors in Wales. See the Full guide to the LGPS for councillors for more detailed information about the Scheme.
Pay and contributions
You pay 6% of your basic and responsibility allowances into the LGPS. If you pay tax, you will get tax relief on your contributions. Your council pays the rest of the cost of providing your LGPS benefits. This is generally around double what you pay.
Your LGPS benefits are based on your career average pay. Your career average pay is the average of:
- your basic and responsibility allowances for each Scheme year ending 31 March
- adjusted by the change in the cost of living between the end of the relevant Scheme year and the date you leave the Scheme.
You can increase your benefits by paying additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).
What are the benefits?
As long as you are in the Scheme for at least three months you will build up:
- a pension based on 1/80th of your career average pay for each year of membership of the LGPS plus
- a tax-free lump sum of three times your pension.
The normal pension age in the LGPS is 65,but you can take your pension benefits from age 55 onwards. If you take your benefits before age 65 they will generally be reduced for early payment. If you take them after age 65 they will be increased.
The LGPS also offers:
- life cover: a lump sum of two times your career average pay will be paid if die as a member under age 75
- cover for your family: a pension for your spouse or civil partner and for eligible children when you die
- immediate benefits: if you have to retire because of permanent ill health at any age.
If you leave the Scheme and do not take your pension benefits straight away, you will have the same options as a councillor in England. See the section above covering Options on leaving the Scheme for more information. If you re-join the LGPS as a councillor in Wales in the same administering authority, you will have the option of combining your two periods of membership together.
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