Partnership FAQs

Who is eligible for a partnership pension account?

Any member who joined on or after 1 October 2002 regardless of which scheme they are eligible to participate in, and anyone who is eligible to be a member of alpha, even if they joined before 1 October 2002.

If you are a new joiner you will receive details of your pension options in your Pension Starter pack, which will be with you within 8 weeks of your start date.

Existing members of nuvos, premium and alpha can only switch from the main scheme into the partnership pension account on 1 April or 1 October each year. To switch schemes you must give at least three months’ notice.

For example: If you want to switch to partnership on the 1 October 2017, you will need to give notice before 1 July 2017.

You are allowed one switch into partnership and one switch from partnership.

You can find the required forms on the ‘member forms’ page of the Civil Service Pensions website: www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk

How does the partnership pension account work?

Your employer will make contributions on your behalf and you may also contribute.

The value of the pension pot when you retire will depend on; the contributions paid in and the returns on your investments (after charges). 

You can use the resulting pot to fund your retirement or to leave to someone in the event of your death.

What happens when I leave?

If you leave your job, your employer’s contributions will stop.

Your pension fund is yours, no matter what your job.

Depending on the pension arrangements in your new job, you may be able to carry on paying into your partnership pension account or you can leave it to earn investment returns. You may want to transfer your fund to another pension provider or to your new employer’s pension scheme. The choice is yours, but if you are considering transferring your fund to another provider or to a new employer’s pension scheme, make sure you understand what you are giving up and what you are getting in return.

Your employer will notify your partnership pension provider that you have left employment and the provider will then contact you separately.

How much will I pay?

You do not have to contribute anything.

The partnership pension account offers you the opportunity of having a ‘free’ pension. Your employer will pay your age-related contribution and if you do contribute, your employer will pay an additional amount to match your contributions up to 3% of your pensionable earnings.

So if you decide to contribute 2% of your pensionable earnings, your employer will pay an extra 2% of your pensionable earnings on top of the age-related contribution. If you decided to contribute 5%, your employer would pay an extra 3%, as the extra matching contributions are limited to 3% of your pensionable earnings. Your contributions will be based on your pensionable earnings so if you are receiving reduced pay, you will only pay contributions on the pay you actually receive.

What will my employer pay?

Your employer will make a contribution as a percentage of your pensionable earnings. This varies according to your age as at the beginning of the tax year (at the last 6 April) and so it may increase in the future. Current contribution rates are shown below:

Age at the last 6 April

Percentage of your pensionable earnings

Under 31

8%

31 to 35

9%

36 to 40

11%

41 to 45

13.5%

46 or over

14.75%

Please note that there are no additional payments made to those with birthdays shortly after 6 April.

Your employer will make these contributions even if you decide not to pay anything into your account.

You can always decide to pay money in at a later stage. If you do, your employer will then match the level of your contributions, up to 3% of your pensionable earnings.

What earnings are pensionable?

As a general rule, only permanent items of pay are pensionable. This will include any allowances your employer tells you are pensionable, but will not include some payments, like overtime.

Bonus payments do not normally count as pensionable earnings, but if you receive pensionable bonus payments, your employer (and you, if you choose to contribute) will pay contributions on them. You may also have some non-cash pensionable earnings. For example, some people may receive a 2% uniform allowance, and others may have an allowance for accommodation. In these circumstances, your employer (and you, if you choose to contribute) will also pay contributions based on the equivalent cash value of these non-cash pensionable earnings.

Your payslip should show the level of your pensionable earnings.

What does my employer pay if I am on maternity, paternity or adoption leave?

If you are on reduced pay during maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or on unpaid ordinary maternity or paternity leave, your employer will make contributions to your partnership pension account based on the pay that you would have expected to have had if you had still been working.

Your employer will not contribute during periods of unpaid additional maternity or adoption leave.

How much am I allowed to pay?

There is no limit on the amount that you can pay into your partnership pension account. You will receive tax relief on any contributions you make up to 100% of your taxable earnings or £3,600 (inclusive of basic rate tax relief); whichever is the higher (subject to the Annual Allowance).

Details of the annual allowance can be found at:

www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension/annual-allowance

Do I get tax relief?

Your employer’s contributions are based on your pay before tax (your gross pay). But your own contributions are taken from you after you have paid tax.

You pay a reduced contribution, which takes account of the tax relief that the pension provider will claim back on your behalf. So, for example, if you wanted to pay £100, we would take £80 from your net pay (£100 less £20 basic-rate income tax). The pension provider would then claim back £20 from HM Revenue & Customs, so the total amount going into your pension fund based on your contributions would be £80 + £20 = £100.

If you are a higher-rate or additional rate taxpayer, you should contact HM Revenue & Customs to claim the extra tax relief.

How do I make my payments?

Your employer will take regular (normally monthly) contributions from your pay and pay it automatically to your chosen provider

What happens if I’m not working?

If you are not receiving any earnings, for example, if you are on a career break, you may continue to make contributions up to £3,600 a year (inclusive of tax relief). Your employer will not normally make contributions, so you can set up a direct debit to your partnership pension account from your bank account.

Do I pay National Insurance on my pension contributions?

Yes, you pay National Insurance (NI) contributions at the standard rate.

How do I choose my provider?

You need to choose which pension provider you want to invest your employer’s, and your (if any), contributions. Stakeholder pensions are a type of personal pension, which offer capped charges and make it easier for you to move your pension from job to job.

Cabinet Office has chosen two stakeholder pension providers to offer the partnership pension account based on their financial strength, their funds, their charges, their administration and their willingness to work with us to provide the pension account. The providers are:

  • Scottish Widows
  • Standard Life

If you have recently joined your employer your pension Starter Pack contains more information about each of the providers including how to contact them for more details.  If you are looking to switch from another Civil Service pension scheme then further information, including application forms, can be obtained from the provider micro sites:

http://www.scottishwidows.co.uk/civilservicepartnership/

https://www.standardlifepensions.com/civilservice

You may wish to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser before you make your choice. See the Financial Conduct Authority site for tips on finding an adviser: www.fca.org.uk

Please note that the Prudential arrangement is not available to new members therefore you can only open a Partnership account with Scottish Widows or Standard Life.

Can I change to a different partnership pension provider?

If you want to change to a different pension provider, you can only do this on 1 April or 1 October in any year. You need to give your employer at least three months’ notice.

 

Please note that the Prudential arrangement is not available to new members therefore you can only switch to Scottish Widows or Standard Life.

Can I move to the Premium, Nuvos or Alpha pension scheme?

Depending on the pension choices you were given when you started work, you can switch to the scheme you were eligible to join. You will not have a choice of schemes. If you do decide to switch, you will have one further opportunity to switch back to partnership if you wish to do so. We only allow you to switch either on 1 April or 1 October each year, and you must give your employer at least three months’ notice in writing.

To find out which scheme applies to you, contact your employer.

A quick start guide to switching is available at:

http://www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk/members/quick-start/what-do-i-need-to-know-aboutswitching-schemes/

or you can contact MyCSP at:

MyCSP
PO Box 2017 
Liverpool 
L69 2BU

0300 123 666

+44 1903 835902

How do I choose what to invest in?

A successful investment is not simply one that delivers high returns (the money your investments earn). It is one that gives you the right balance of investment returns and security for your money.

What is the right balance will vary from one person to another and will also vary with age.

You must remember that the value of some investments can go down as well as up, and this is often shown in the returns available to investors. Put simply, if you are guaranteed that the amount you have invested can never go down, you cannot expect to get very high returns. On the other hand, if you are prepared to take the risk that your investment might go up and down in value, you would expect the possibility of higher returns as the reward for that risk.

Every situation is different and what is right for someone else may not be right for you. The most appropriate funds for you will be those, which most closely match your attitude to risk and investment. This might include things like the type of industries you are happy to invest in. For example, you might prefer to have your pension in an ethical fund, which does not invest in certain companies or sectors of industry. We suggest that you read the providers’ information packs and, if you need to, talk to the providers about the differences between the funds they offer.

You may wish to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser before you make your choice. See the Financial Conduct Authority site for tips on finding an adviser: www.fca.org.uk

Do I have to choose an investment fund?

You will see from the providers’ information that each provider offers a wide range of investment funds, including a default option. If you choose a provider but don’t want to choose an investment fund, all contributions made by you and your employer will be invested in the default option.

Read the providers’ information to find out about the different funds on offer. When looking at past performance, remember that it may not be a reliable guide to how they will perform in the future.

Information is available via the provider micro-sites:

https://www.pru.co.uk/rz/gppshp/build-up-your-plan/

http://www.scottishwidows.co.uk/civilservicepartnership/c-csp-investment.htm

https://www.standardlifepensions.com/civilservice_gshp/investment-choices/your-investment-options

What are ‘lifestyle’ funds?

Many providers offer a lifestyle option for people who don’t want to choose a fund. The basic idea is that your money is invested mainly in company shares (or equities) while you are young and then switched into less volatile investments as you approach retirement age.

You could manage your investments yourself in a similar way, but the lifestyle option means that the switching happens automatically. Lifestyle options are probably more appropriate for someone who thinks they will want to buy an annuity when they retire, rather than use their partnership fund for drawdown (see the Q & A on ‘How do I access my money’ for an explanation of annuity and drawdown options).

If you think that a lifestyle option could be right for you, remember that the details will vary from one provider to the other. In particular, you need to ensure the fund (or funds) used for investing when you are young are suitable and that the system for switching you into less volatile investments looks appropriate for you. If you choose a lifestyle option, it is very important that your pension provider knows when you plan to draw your pension, as this affects when they switch you into less volatile investments. You should make sure you tell your provider in good time when you plan to draw your pension.

How will I find out how my fund is performing?

Your provider will send you a statement each year. This will show the value of your fund and the contributions paid, together with a rough idea of what this may mean in pension terms at pension age. You must tell your provider whenever you change your address.

You can also view the performance of each of the funds on the providers’ websites. Together with financial advisers, the scheme will also constantly review the investment and administrative performance of the providers, and will report on this to the Civil Service Pensions Board.

You can track the performance of your fund at any time by registering with your provider, to use their secure online facilities.

How do I change or switch my investment funds?

Read the providers’ information to find out about the different funds on offer. When looking at past performance, remember that it may not be a reliable guide to how they will perform in the future.

Information on the funds available and how to switch is available via the provider micro-sites:

https://www.pru.co.uk/rz/gppshp/build-up-your-plan/

http://www.scottishwidows.co.uk/civilservicepartnership/c-csp-investment.htm

https://www.standardlifepensions.com/civilservice_gshp/investment-choices/your-investment-options

You may wish to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser before you make your choice. See the Financial Conduct Authority site for tips on finding an adviser: www.fca.org.uk

When can I access my money?

Under current legislation, you can draw your partnership pension at any time from age 55.

You don’t have to retire to take your pension. You choose the timing to fit in with your personal circumstances. You also decide whether or not you want to provide a pension for your dependants after your death.

If you are 50 or over, or are retiring on ill-health, you can get free impartial guidance on your options by booking an appointment with Pension wise.  Appointments are available by telephone or face to face and take about 45 minutes.  Further details are available at:

https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/

I can’t work due to ill-health, can I take my pension early?

If you are unable to work due to ill-health you may be able to take your pension benefits early.  Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has specific criteria that you must meet in order for you to access your funds before age 55.  Your partnership pension account provider will be able to confirm whether you meet the criteria.

You can get free impartial guidance on your options by booking an appointment with Pension wise.  Appointments are available by telephone or face to face and take about 45 minutes.  Further details are available at:

https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/

Additionally if you have at least two year’s service, and have to leave your job because of ill-health, we may pay you a lump sum benefit payment. Please speak to your employer if you wish to apply for the lump sum benefit.

How can I access my money?

You can usually take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum although you are not required to do so.

Your options for the funds remaining after any tax-free cash is taken include:

  • A regular income payable for life, also known as an annuity.  You can select options to allow the income to increase with inflation and/ or to provide benefits following your death.
  • A flexible income via income drawdown. This allows you to either withdraw regular income, payable monthly or yearly, or to take unlimited withdrawals. There may be minimum withdrawal amounts imposed by the providers. (F)
  • Take your full fund as a cash lump sum. (F)
  • Or a combination of the options to suit your circumstances.

You may have to transfer your partnership pension account to a different pension arrangement before you can exercise some of these options.  Your provider can confirm the position.

Other than the tax-free cash lump sum all withdrawals are treated as taxable UK income.  Additionally if you take money from your account under a flexible option (marked F above) you may be subject to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance. Details can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/tax-on-your-private-pension/annual-allowance

If you are 50 or over, or are retiring on ill-health, you can get free impartial guidance on your options by booking an appointment with Pension wise.  Appointments are available by telephone or face to face and take about 45 minutes.  Further details are available at:

https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/

Will the Government guarantee my pension?

The Government cannot guarantee your pension.

How big will my pension pot be?

The amount of your pension pot will depend on:

  • The amount of money invested in your fund;
  • The performance of your investment fund;
  • When you decide to take your pension – that is, how long the money remains invested.

It is important that you give your pension fund a regular health check over the years to make sure you are on track to get the size of fund that you want. You will receive annual statements that show the value of your fund to help you with this. And remember that contributions made while you are young are going to have more years to grow with investment returns.

You may wish to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser to review your pension savings. See the Financial Conduct Authority site for tips on finding an adviser: www.fca.org.uk

Do I have to retire from my job before I can access my money?

No. Drawing your pension doesn’t have to be linked to retiring from work.

What happens if I am made redundant?

Your employer’s contributions into your pension account will stop when you leave, but your fund will continue to earn investment returns.

You can make arrangements with your provider to continue to pay into your pension fund. Alternatively, you may transfer your fund to another pension provider.

If you get a new job you may be able to transfer your fund to your new employer’s pension scheme. This will, however, depend on the particular arrangements of your employer’s scheme. The choice is yours but, if you are considering transferring your fund, make sure you understand what you are giving up and what you are getting in return.

What happens if I die before I draw my pension?

If you die before you draw your pension, the provider will pay the value of your partnership pension account to the person named on the application form, and / or provider’s form.  The value of your pension pot will be the contributions that you and your employer have made, plus investment returns over the years.

You can complete a new nomination form at any time.  If you wish to update your nomination form please contact your partnership account provider.

If you die before you leave, we will also pay a lump sum of three times your pensionable earnings to the person you have nominated, on your Pension Choices form, or on a later amendment.  You can change your nomination at any time; you can do this using the death benefit nomination form available on the member forms page of the Civil Service Pensions website:

www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk

Can money be paid into my plan while I’m on a career break?

Your employer will not make any contributions to your fund while you are on a career break. As it is your pension plan, you can decide if you wish to make voluntary payments to increase the value of your pension while you are on your career break.

I’m changing the number of hours I work, how does this affect my Partnership account?

Your employer makes contributions into your Partnership pension account and these are calculated as a percentage of your pensionable earnings based on your age.  Therefore if you change your hours the percentage of your pensionable earnings that is paid does not change but the actual amount paid will change.

You can choose whether you make a contribution to your Partnership pension account.  If you do make any contributions, your employer will match your contributions up to an additional 3% of your pensionable earnings.

I am getting divorced what happens to my Partnership account?

If you are going through a divorce, dissolution or annulment, the partnership pension account could be subject to an earmarking order or a pension sharing order. This means that your spouse/civil partner may be awarded some of your pension and/or lump sum by the Court presiding over your divorce/ dissolution settlement.

Your solicitor can provide you with further details of the different options and how they will affect you in your circumstances.

I need to report the death of a member, how do I do this.

Please contact the provider of the member’s partnership pension account to report the death of the member.  Contact details are available as follows:

Prudential (Stakeholder team)

http://www.pru.co.uk/rz/gppshp/contact/

Scottish Widows

http://www.scottishwidows.co.uk/civilservicepartnership/c-csp-contact.htm

Standard Life

http://www.standardlifepensions.com/civilservice_gshp/home/contact-us

If the member died before leaving service, we will also pay a lump sum of three times their pensionable earnings to the person they nominated.

Please also contact MyCSP to report the death of the member:

http://www.civilservicepensionscheme.org.uk/contact-us/

How do I contact Prudential?

Telephone:

0345 070 3333 (Open 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday)

Office address:

Prudential
Stakeholder Customer Service Centre
Lancing
BN15 8GB

How do I contact Scottish Widows?

How do I contact Standard Life?

Telephone:

0800 634 7479
Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm

Office address:

Standard Life
Dundas House
20 Brandon Street
Edinburgh
EH3 5PP

Is there anyone I can talk to about my pension?

Financial Advice

You may wish to speak to an Independent Financial Adviser about your pension plans. See the Financial Conduct Authority site for tips on finding an adviser: www.fca.org.uk

General Pensions Guidance

The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) provides information and guidance to help make you make informed decisions about your pensions and retirement plans.   TPAS is an independent organisation that is grant-aided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Telephone:

0300 123 1047

Website:

https://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

Guidance on your options at retirement

If you are 50 or over, or are retiring on ill-health, you can get free impartial guidance on your options by booking an appointment with Pension wise.  Appointments are available by telephone or face to face and take about 45 minutes.  Further details are available at:

https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/