20/03/2020 | Primary

Coronavirus update for members

As the impact of the coronavirus is felt across the UK, we want to reassure members that looking after their pension is our top priority.

Because we are a ‘defined benefit’ scheme, the value of regular pensions we are currently paying out to our pensioners is not determined by the ups and downs of the stock market. This means that any turbulence to financial markets caused by the current situation will not affect the regular pensions that we already pay out to members.

We are following government advice closely in handling the situation, and our key priorities are to ensure our members continue to receive their payments on time and to protect the health of our staff.

Whilst we have been planning for the current scenario and are committed to continuing to serve our members, we would ask that members only contact us if they have urgent requests. This is to ensure we can prioritise our efforts to those members most in need. For anyone wishing to notify us of a bereavement or experiencing payment issues, please contact our Member Support team on 0800 731 1919.

For most other queries, there are many things that members can do themselves on the BTPS Portal. For example, you can change your address or change the bank or building society account you receive your pension into.  You can also view your pension payment details, pension payslip information and P60 and update your Expression of Wish information.

To help you log on and understand more about what the BTPS Portal does, you can read a step-by-step guide that shows you how to register, if you haven’t already done so.

Don’t be a victim of pension scammers 

Sadly, the Coronavirus has sparked an increase in fraudulent activity. Pension scammers are using the crisis to prey on people’s fears and isolation, by offering to transfer pension savings into supposed “safe havens”.   

If you are approached about transferring your BT Pension Scheme benefits, please exercise extreme caution.  The Financial Conduct Authority’s ScamSmart website includes general help around protecting yourself from potential scams, and specific guidance relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Money and Pensions Service website also contains useful information about how the current economic conditions may impact pensions or other investments. 

We have also listed some of your Frequently Asked Questions below. We will keep adding to them to keep you informed.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience.

Kind regards

BTPS Member Services

Frequently Asked Questions about the current Coronavirus situation

I am due to take my pension benefits soon but I have AVCs – can I postpone my retirement date until later in the year?

The BT Pension Scheme is a defined benefit pension scheme, so the current changes in market conditions have no impact on your main Scheme benefits. 

However, if you have Scheme Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) invested in growth type assets (eg. equities), it is likely the value of your funds will have fallen recently and will continue to be volatile.  We recommend that all members with AVCs think carefully about their retirement plans and seek appropriate guidance or advice before making any decisions.  The Money and Pensions Service can help you find support. 

If you have already confirmed your retirement date with us, we will continue to process retirements at your chosen date. If you have AVCs, we will disinvest your AVCs up to approximately one month before your chosen retirement date.  If you now wish to postpone your chosen retirement date, please call our Member Support Team on 0800 731 1919.  

If I request a switch in AVC fund does it happen straight away? 

Please be aware that a request to switch your AVC fund is not an instant transaction and the transfer of funds can take up to 18 days to complete.   

There is a risk that market volatility could affect the value of your fund between the date of your switch request and the date it is disinvested by your existing provider. The value can go down, as well as up during this period.  

Between your funds being disinvested and the time they’re invested in your new choice of fund, there may be a short period when they are not invested at all. This is known as being ‘out of market’. While your funds are ‘out of market’, they will not benefit from market gains nor be reduced by market losses.  

If you are unsure about how market volatility may affect the value of your AVC, please consult an independent financial advisor before requesting a switch.