About the Scheme

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Click on one of the below to find out more about the different options available to you.
Contributing to the Plan

You should log on to Lifestyle to check your pension contribution entitlement under your terms and conditions of employment if you are not sure what they are. Once logged on you should click on the 'Pension' tile and then 'Change my contributions' where you will find the contribution rates relating to your terms and conditions under the heading of 'Contractual Funding'.

If you do not select contribution rates provided in your terms and conditions then only the auto-enrolment contributions will be paid and you might be missing out on additional contributions by Sopra Steria.

If you have any queries you should contact the Steria GPP Helpdesk.

Investments

One of the most important things to decide is where you would like contributions to your personal pension to be invested. This decision is up to you, and can make a big difference to the eventual income you have in retirement.

It is important for you to understand your investment options so that you are comfortable with the decisions you make.

You should read as much information and use as many tools as you can, including the pensions calculator. You may also want to seek help from an Professional Financial Advisor if you are unsure, though they will charge a fee for this advice. If you select your own investment funds, in the years approaching retirement you may wish to review them to ensure that they remain appropriate. You can find out more information detailed under the 'investment strategy' section on the Orbit online platform.

The decisions you make about the funds you would like to invest in probably depends on your attitude to risk. Equities and Property are seen as the most risky types of assets but can provide the biggest return over the longer term. Bonds and Cash are the least risky but typically provide smaller returns in the long run.

Although you are encouraged to take an active role in deciding on the funds contributions should be invested in under the Steria GPP there is a default investment approach where contributions are automatically invested in if you do not make any specific investment decisions. The default is known as a 'Lifestyle' investment approach. This type of investment strategy is set-up to make changes to the investment profile of your fund automatically as you approach retirement. As you get closer to retirement your fund is gradually moved from funds which are considered to be less risky in the short term. It is a way of protecting your pension from market volatility that exists if you are invested in equities (stocks and shares) as your approach retirement.

Your contributions are invested in a broad range of asset classes, including equities (stocks and shares), and other potential higher growth investments while you are more than ten years from your Target Retirement Age (TRA). The aim is to build up the value of your pension fund during this period by way of investment returns as well as by the contributions paid into the GPP. Within ten years of your TRA your investments are automatically switched to bonds and cash type investments that offer more stable returns and aims to protect the value of your accumulated personal pension. Click here for more details about the Steria GPP Default Ten Year Lifestyle Investment Approach. This default was introduced from 1 January 2014 and if you joined the GPP before this date you would have been invested in the previous default - the Steria GPP Six Year Lifestyle Investment Approach and more information can be accessed here. The approach was replaced as the default based on investment advice received by Sopra Steria. If you are still invested in this approach you are encouraged to review whether the default remains appropriate for you or whether the new default approach is more appropriate.

Whichever funds you choose, it's important to remember that the past performance of any fund or investment is not necessarily a guide to how that fund or investment may perform in the future and that the value of your investments can fall as well as rise. A pension fund is intended to be a long-term investment, and there can be no guarantees regarding the level of retirement benefits the plan will provide. If you are unsure as to the sustainability of a particular fund you should seek Professional Financial Advice.

It is important that you set your Target Retirement Age early on, as the 'Lifestyle' strategy uses this date to make the gradual movements in your investments. The default Target Retirement Age when the personal pension plan was set up is age 65. If you want to change your Target Retirement Age, you should contact the Lifestyle helpdesk at Lifestyle@orbitbenefits.co.uk.

What happens if you leave Sopra Steria or opt out of the Plan?

If you leave Sopra Steria or opt out of the Plan, your pension will remain invested with Scottish Widows as a personal policy in your name. The employer contributions will cease.

If you are auto-enrolled, you have a legal right to opt out within one calendar month after being auto enrolled and have your contributions returned to you.

Transferring benefits

If you have another pension arrangements with other providers, you may be able to transfer these benefits into the GPP. You should log into Orbit and click on the 'Pension' tile and then 'Transfers In'. Here you will find useful information about transfers from different types of pension arrangements. If the GPP can accept the transfer from the particular arrangement you wish to transfer from, you should follow the instructions given.

If you leave/cease payment of contributions, the benefits you've built up still belong to you. You have the option to leave them invested with Scottish Widows or transfer them to another registered pension Plan.

To transfer them to another arrangement you would need to contact both your new pension provider and Scottish Widows who will provide you with all the necessary documentation. 

Once approved, your funds would be disinvested and transferred to your nominated registered pension plan.

It is always recommended to speak to a Professional Financial Advisor before making such a transfer.

What happens when you retire?

Scottish Widows will contact you approximately six months prior to your Target Retirement Age and will detail the different options available to you. You'll be asked to select which option you would like to take. These are many pension providers that provide different products so it's important that you 'shop around'. It is always recommended that you speak to a Professional Financial Advisor. Although they cannot give financial advice, Capita Employee Benefits can review the market for you. If you would like to discuss this option you should contact Lifestyle@orbitbenefits.co.uk.

From 6 April 2015 the Government will offer a ‘guidance guarantee’. This is a host of information and access to calls or a face to face meeting you can organise via www.gov.uk/pensionwise.

As well as this the site provides useful links to find out your State Pension entitlement or compare the pension market, for example annuity rates, with the Money Advice Service’s site.

The general default option at retirement is what is known as an Annuity. This gives you a guaranteed income for either the rest of your life (a lifetime annuity) or for a fixed number of years (a temporary annuity). This is usually provided by an insurance provider.

You also have the option to take part of the pot as a tax free lump sum.

If you retire early you are likely to have less money in your pension pot because it will have received fewer contributions and has had less time to grow. It also means that your pension is expected to be in payment for longer than if you had retired at your target retirement date, aged 65. The earliest date you can retire is normally aged 55 and the latest date you can take your pension is aged 75. If you take your benefits early you may also have to wait longer for your State pension to be paid.

The Budget 2014 announced significant changes to pension allowing much more flexibility for when you retire. Visit the news and important information section for further details.

What happens if you die?

The options available to you will depend on whether you have started to take your pension.

If you die before you retire, your pension will be refunded to your beneficiary free of tax. It is therefore important that you have completed a nomination form which can be found if you log in to Lifestyle, explaining precisely who you would like to receive any benefits and what proportion.

The death benefits available from a pension fund after retirement will depend to a large extent on the retirement income option selected. If you buy an annuity with your pension fund, you can build into the annuity a death benefit in the form of on-going income for your partner or other beneficiaries.

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