7th October 2020
WHY THE CHILDREN's Society values PQM
The Children's Society is a charity that works with young people when they face a crisis, feel unloved or unable to cope. alongside physical harm, many may be suffering from mental health issues, facing poverty or living in fear for their safety. tackling complex problems in the belief that no child should feel alone, the charity worked with nearly 10,000 children and young people last year through a combination of active case work and advice, and delivered more than 621,000 positive impacts through policy and campaigning work.
Around 40% of its staff work in frontline roles supporting children and young people, while another 30% work in the retail division, managing and operating the many charity shops on the nation's high streets. Roughly one in three staff work within the fundraising and corporate services teams.
The charity's workplace pension scheme is relatively small by national standards, with around £138 million of assets in a defined benefit (DB) fund and £3 million in defined contribution (DC) arrangements.
The Children's Society DC pension scheme has been a holder of the PLSA's Pension Quality Mark (PQM) since January 2014.
Gareth Hopkins, Director of GJH Pensions, a specialist consultancy that supports The Children's Society, says employers have a responsibility to ensure their workforce understand the importance of saving for later life - because for most of the population, their workplace pension provision is the only place they actively save for their retirement.
But there are also a number of other benefits to being a PQM holder. Chief among them is so staff can feel reassured that their retirement savings are being managed to the highest standards.
"Employers invest considerable resource, both financial and human, to offer fit-for-purpose workplace pension provision," says Hopkins. "Therefore, it seems logical for organisations to promote their pension offering so that employees recognise the value of, arguably, the most important employee benefit."
The Children's Society recognises the importance of its employees saving for later life by going above and beyond the legislative minimum contribution requirements. The PQM logo, which The Children's Society displays on communications with staff about their pensions, is a sign of this commitment and enables The Children's Society to showcase the quality of its pension provision through formal accreditation.
"For those not familiar with pension provision, the PQM logo offers visual comfort that The Children's Society is committed to supporting employees to save for later life," says Hopkins. "It demonstrates employee recognition, which can have a positive impact on staff morale. A good quality workplace pension arrangement, with PQM accreditation, is a useful tool to help retain and attract employees."
Historically employers have afforded disproportionate resources to their DB pension arrangements but Hopkins says the PQM offering is about so much more than a simple stamp of approval: "We recognise that there are significant financial considerations with DB pension schemes, with large deficits to fund. Our experience is that employers with both DB and DC arrangements often lose sight of their DC offering.
"Employers seeking to improve the quality of their DC provision could refer to PQM literature for guidance. The standards required to meet PQM accreditation serve as a useful tool for employers to understand 'what good looks like'; even if they do not intend to apply in the first instance."
APPLYING FOR PQM RECOGNITION
Hopkins says the PQM application process was very straightforward and the assessment panel quite pragmatic when reviewing the criteria required to award the accreditation.
"The PQM team were very encouraging and flexible during the application process. For example, The Children's Society was able to demonstrate that some criteria would be discussed at future governance meetings - the assessment panel looked favourably on the positive attitude to continually improve and subsequently awarded the PQM."
GJH Pensions is an independent pensions consultancy offering experienced cross-sector business support. Their focus is on offering advice that is both practical and affordable during a time of increased need for corporate pensions support.
More information, including client testimonials, can be found at www.GJHpensions.com You can also follow them on Twitter @GJHpensions
The above article was first published in Viewpoint, the PLSA's member magazine, Autumn 2020.