Publication - Statistics

Scottish local government financial statistics 2017-2018

Published: 26 Feb 2019

Annual publication providing a comprehensive overview of financial activity of Scottish local authorities based on authorities audited accounts.

Scottish local government financial statistics 2017-2018
5. Local Government Pensions

5. Local Government Pensions

The income and expenditure from local authority pension funds are entirely separate from the income and expenditure of the authorities themselves. Income from employer and employee contributions is paid into the Pension Fund, which also generates investment income. Expenditure on pensions, lump sums and the costs of managing the pension are paid for from this fund.

The income/expenditure figures should not be used to gauge the health of a pension fund as the ratio of income to expenditure will depend on a number of factors including the age of the fund and whether it is open or closed to new members. The relative financial health of the pension scheme is gauged through the three-yearly actuarial valuations carried out on each of the funds.

Expenditure on Pensions, £millions

  • Total Expenditure was £1.36 billion in 2017-18, an increase of 3.7%;
  • Total Income was £3.48 billion
  • 94% of expenditure was on benefits;
  • Income from investment and other income was £2.19 billion, a decrease of £5.56 billion on the previous year. Investment income can be highly volatile and has ranged from negative £1.03 billion to plus £7.75 billion over the past 10 years;
  • Excluding investments, income increased by 2.3% on the previous year.

Pension Fund Income Source Over Time, £millions

Local Government Pension Scheme Funds are operated as separate funds to other accounts. In accordance with regulations 9 and 65 of The Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2014, employee and employer contributions are paid into the fund, along with income from investments, and pensions and lump sum benefits are paid out of the fund. The income and expenditure from these funds are therefore entirely separate from the income and expenditure of the authorities that administer the funds.

Tables 5.1 and 5.2 show the collective income and expenditure for the Local Government Pension Scheme for the year in question, with income from contributions representing payments for pensionable service accrued during the year which will be paid out (as part of an overall pension) at a future date and expenditure on pensions representing payments of previously accrued pension rights. The relative financial health of the pension scheme is gauged through three-yearly actuarial valuations of each of the eleven funds.

Table 5.1 – Local Government Pension Scheme Funds Expenditure 2013-14 to 2017-18

£thousands

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

Total Benefits including Payments under Pensions (Increase) Acts:

1,069,643

1,116,100

1,176,592

1,248,556

1,283,394

Pensions1

642,755

671,634

676,667

721,251

755,389

Lump Sums1

235,963

238,777

269,346

301,442

297,375

Other Benefits1

0

0

9,305

0

0

Payments under Pensions (Increase) Acts1

190,925

205,688

221,274

225,863

230,630

Transfer Values2

42,061

44,295

39,289

50,296

62,396

Other3

16,282

20,820

19,411

17,305

19,045

TOTAL EXPENDITURE

1,127,986

1,181,215

1,235,292

1,316,157

1,364,835

1. Payments under the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971 relate to costs associated with uprating of pensions. In some cases local authorities were unable to separately identify this cost and included it within pensions, lump sums & other benefits.

2. Transfer Values are due to scheme members transferring to other pension schemes (for example where a scheme member has moved to a different employer).

3. “Other Benefits” includes, Fund Administration and Management Costs (the largest component); Refunds of Contributions; Adjustments; and Premiums.

Source: Local Financial Returns: LFR24

Table 5.1 details the total expenditure of the Local Government Pension Scheme Funds in Scotland since 2012-13. Total expenditure increased by 3.7% (£49 million) between 2016-17 and 2017-18, with the vast majority (94%) of expenditure being on benefits.

Table 5.2 – Local Government Pension Scheme Funds Income 2013-14 to 2017-18

£thousands

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

Total Contributions

1,157,698

1,179,595

1,235,364

1,257,820

1,286,217

Contributions (including those from other employing authorities)

Employees

266,780

271,320

277,008

284,282

290,531

Employers

890,918

908,275

958,356

973,538

995,686

Net Investment and Other Income1

2,063,964

4,215,940

700,626

7,748,872

2,192,605

TOTAL INCOME1

3,221,662

5,395,535

1,935,990

9,006,692

3,478,822

Source: Local Financial Returns – LFR24

Table 5.2 shows local government pension scheme funds income since 2013-14. Contributions from employees and employers are both dependent on the number of contributing employees (full time and part-time) and increased by 2.3% between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Contributions from employees are fixed at a set percentage of pay, depending on level of salary. Contribution rates from employers are variable and are reviewed on a triennial basis, with actuaries determining the contribution rates for the following three years.

Net investment and other income decreased by around £5.56 billion compared with 2016-17, however investment income in 2016-17 was unusually high. Investment income is volatile and is heavily influenced by investment conditions (e.g. changes in the stock market), ranging from a loss of £1.03 billion in 2008-09 to a gain of £7.75 billion in 2017-18.