Telecoms giant BT cannot change the index it uses to calculate pension increases for certain members of its pension scheme, according to a UK court ruling today.The company was seeking to find out whether it would be able to use the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) to calculate inflation-linked annual pension increases. The CPI is typically lower, so being able to use it would have helped the company deal with a large deficit in its defined benefit (DB) pension scheme.According to BT’s annual report for the 12 months to 31 March 2017, the pension scheme had a shortfall of £7.6bn (€8.6bn). However, a funding update issued by the trustees last year put the deficit at nearly £14bn as of 30 June 2016.The company had agreed in principle with the trustee of the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS) to switch its inflation measure to the CPI, but it wanted to check whether this would be deemed compatible with the scheme rules. The High Court today ruled against BT.The company said it was disappointed with the decision.“[W]e will now consider the judgment in detail in order to decide next steps, including the possibility of an appeal,” it added in a statement.According to Slaughter and May, which acted for the BTPS trustees, BT had argued that RPI had “become inappropriate” for the purposes of the relevant scheme rules and that the company could therefore, following consultation with the trustee, switch away from RPI. The trustee said it was in the process of analysing the judgment and would provide a further update once this was done.BTPS is the largest private sector pension scheme in the UK and the 11th largest in Europe, according to IPE’s Top 1000 Pension Funds report.The court ruling comes as BT has just completed a consultation on changes to its main DB and defined contribution (DC) schemes.The company has proposed closing BTPS to future accrual in April, with all members’ contributions moving to the BT Retirement Saving Scheme (BTRSS), the main DC plan. BT would pay additional contributions into the BTRSS for up to 10 years.As an alternative, the company proposed keeping BTPS open on a significantly amended basis, whereby benefits would increase more slowly in future and members would have to contribute more.BT said it was now considering employees’ feedback to the consultation before concluding its review of its pension schemes.Trade union CWU has opposed the proposals. Prospect, another union, said it was in the process of finalising a new pension deal with the company.BT said it was in “constructive discussions” with the BTPS trustee in relation to the triennial valuation, and that it still expected to complete the valuation in the first half of this calendar year.
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Following reports in Guyana Times of the facilities and other infrastructure of Queen’s College being in a dilapidated state, education officers from the Department of Education along with an engineer appointed by the Education Ministry have visited the school.Coming out of the visit, assessments were made, which exposed that the institution is in need of a facelift.Following an inspection, it was announced that the structure will be subjected to routine repairs and maintenance works, which are needed. Additionally, the roofs of the east and west wing and the administrative building will be repaired. Maintenance is also scheduled for the playground which has been invaded by bushes.The science lab, which was considered by the teachers as “not conducive” to lab experiments, will be repainted, cupboards will be installed, and the dilapidated walls and ceilings will be repaired.With these rehabilitative works set to commence in the August vacation, a decision was made to allocate $11 million for the works that are pending.This publication had reported earlier that students and teachers were raising complaints about the difficulties which they face on a daily basis, as a result of poor structural facilities. Calls were made for the labs to be redone, which was one of the main challenges being faced by Guyana’s premier institution.Sources had revealed that in respect to the quality of students that are produced every year, the institution requires at least one state-of-the art laboratory.“Structurally, we think that the lab should be done over. In terms of the quality of students and the calibre of the examination practical component, we definitely need a state-of-the-art lab because this is not conducive to lab experiments,” a source stated.It was revealed that in the past, moderators that were dispatched to the school would comment on the state of the laboratories utilised by the students.“It’s not that we are totally responsible for the practical part. We have an external moderator that has to come to check how the labs were conducted. Every year they come to check how we’re conducting our labs and there’re always comments about how they thought the lab was much better than it is.”While it was stated that they try to make do with the necessary resources that are available in the laboratories, the walls and other sections are unadorned with diagrams due to the fact that the walls are gradually crumbling.Additionally, the unmaintained playgrounds were one of the main reasons that their sports activities were diverged to the Guyana Cricket Club (GCC) Ground.With the decision to rehabilitate the structural aspects of the school, students and teachers will be able to perform effectively without any disturbances.