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The OPA expresses the views of all member associations whether representatives of traditional Final Salary Schemes (Defined Benefit), Defined Contribution Schemes and deferred members, or hybrids of these types of scheme.
The Alliance policy is determined by the Council in consultation with its member associations. It lobbies parliament and responds to government enquiries on any matters concerning occupational pensions. Our constitution is available here.
The OPA’s services to members include keeping members informed on current pension issues and offering advice based on other member associations’ experiences (but not legal advice).
The OPA also conducted surveys of its members’ schemes between 2008 and 2012 to help the council formulate our policies.
The OPA also offers to those who do not have their own websites the hosting of single webpages to publicise details of individual member associations.
Initial History, Recent Events and Changes to The OPA:
Occupational Pensions Alliance has been active since 2003/4 after a merger of COPAS and The Royal Mail and BT Pensioner Associations and other Associations subsequently. In 2006 Gordon Williams, Council Member and representative of ROPA created the OPA Website using the Domain name previously registered by Brian Marks also a Council Member and first Chair of OPA.
Sadly both these senior members passed away during the last six months of 2012. This unexpected development, coupled with the retirement of Roger Turner as Executive Secretary in September 2012, has removed three very important contributors to the formation of OPA which has become a welcome force on the national pensions scene including occupational pensions. Fortunately OPA’s Council and its current organisation have been able to rise to the challenges of coping with these personnel changes and the impact on its organisation and communications.
Tributes and Acknowledgements:
We are very grateful to Hazel Marks, Brian’s widow, for her recent assistance in helping to access the relevant information to restore the OPA Website. We can now build upon the impressive efforts undertaken by Gordon Williams since 2006 creating some 60 Web Pages of Occupational Pensions Information, including Reports with Surveys and Statistics , past legislation and even how to form a Pensioners Association.
Personally I am also grateful to Alan Ford of Trafalgar House Pensioners’ Association and an OPA Council Member who reminded me of a local company contact (Cyber Central) in Thanet which had the website knowledge and expertise to make the requisite changes to restore the OPA Website to function again and resume as an effective communication channel.
Current News – Pensions Campaign and OPA Review 2014/2016:
OPA Council had been deliberating since late 2013 and in 2014 about mounting a Pensions Campaign prior to the General Election in May 2015 with the aim of influencing all prospective parliamentary candidates including current MPs to recognise the unsatisfactory situation facing a number of occupational pensioners due to their low pensions during current financial times.
It is also to counter the Press and Media stance that most occupational pensions in Defined Benefit Schemes are ‘Gold Plated’ when in fact the average annual pension is no more than £4,500, even lower than the State Pension. Furthermore female pensioners and widows are often found to be in this category and therefore disadvantaged again through low final salaries/wages.
OPA Council decided at its meeting in February 2015 not to proceed with its proposed Campaign as a result of the data collection from Member associations not providing adequate and reliable findings to sustain the main purpose of the proposed Campaign.
The Government’s recent announcements on the encashment of defined contribution pensions at retirement after the 1st April 2015 has dominated the Pensions and Financial Communications World and the Media coverage thereof prior to the General Election in May 2015 to the detriment of any other Pension subject and coverage at the current time. There are also other changes in the pipeline which present significant challenges but also opportunities to the future of the pensions market. As a result of this, the OPA Council has decided to review its current strategy and role in advising its member associations and at its next meeting in February will agree a programme and timetable to consult on these matters and important changes so that it can develop appropriate responses to meet its member associations changing needs.
Chair of OPA
Revised January 2016