COVID-19: An update from Mark Engelbretson, Network Rail Head of Pensions
Dear Network Rail Pension Scheme Member,
These are unprecedented times in the UK and across the world.
Fears around the spread of COVID-19 and the containment measures governments around the world have put in place, have impacted the global investment markets in recent weeks, affecting investors, companies and employees across the world.
General Position of the Network Rail Scheme’s
The Trustees of the Railways Pension Scheme (RPS) and the Trustees of the Network Rail CARE and NRDC Pension Schemes, take a long term outlook for the performance of investments in the Scheme’s. Your benefits may well accumulate and be paid for many years into the future and it is important to ensure that the current crisis is considered in this context before making any changes to any of the Scheme’s long term investment strategy. The Trustees of all the Network Rail Pension Scheme’s have, along with their advisors, been carefully monitoring their Schemes’ investments and the development of the COVID-19 situation and continue to give consideration to the expected relatively short term nature of the current situation. The Scheme’s Trustees are continuing to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis with regular discussions with their advisors.
Property Fund Investments
For NRDC members and members in NR CARE with AVC savings, you should note that if you invest in the Scheme’s Property Funds, these funds have been temporarily closed (gated) by the investment managers (Aviva, Threedneedle and LGIM), to money going in and out. You will therefore be unable to direct money to or withdraw money from these two funds until further notice. We have contacted members who make regular contributions to the Property Funds to advise you on the action your Trustees are taking to redirect future contributions elsewhere while these restrictions are in place.
Affordability of contributions
During this time members who have possibly had partners/husbands/wives furloughed may wish to consider, in the short term, reducing or suspending their contributions to RPS BRASS (but not matching Brass Contributions), NR CARE AVCs or reducing their NRDC contributions to the Automatic Enrolment minimums to help them and their families through these uncertain times. If so, we strongly recommend that you speak to a financial advisor before doing so. You should note that you are unable to suspend your main contributions to NR CARE or RPS.
The Network Rail Pensions Team are continuing to function, albeit remotely, and are on hand to answer any queries you may have. During this time, queries should be directed to Pensions@networkrail.co.uk
Mark Engelbretson Head of Pensions