CFDG report aims to guide charities through the pensions maze

15th June 2004

The Charity Finance Directors' Group (CFDG) has today released a major report Charity Pensions Maze Report. The report examines the current state of pensions in the charity sector and provides guidance to charities struggling to deal with the current pensions crisis and find a way through the pensions maze.

Whilst the crisis in corporate pensions has been well documented, this report is the first of its kind specifically for charities. Charities have their own particular pensions issues, not least because of the need for sensitive use of donors' money.

'The Charity Pensions Maze' recognises that there are no 'quick fix' solutions and that current problems are not going to miraculously disappear simply as a result of improvements in the stock market. The Report, sponsored by Sedgwick IFC, encourages charities to actively manage their pension liabilities and includes a number of case studies of the approaches taken by major charities including Barnardos and NSPCC.

In the Foreword to the, Report the Pensions Minister Malcolm Wicks said: "Recent changes in pension valuations have affected everyone, but there are particularly difficult issues for charities. They need to attract the best staff simply because their work is so important, but equally there are conflicts of interest that need to be balanced between the interests of beneficiaries, staff and donors.

I very much welcome this report from Charity Finance Directors' Group. It is an important contribution to the pensions debate, but it is also a clear and vital guide for charities and trustees about the kind of issues they are going to face and the questions that they need to ask. I thoroughly commend it to charities."

Peter Griffiths, who chaired the Pensions Taskforce, said: "The Report usefully analyses the impact of the current pensions crisis on many charities and highlights the difficult choices which Trustees and Charity Finance Directors now face. However, although the Report emphasises the continuing need for the careful monitoring and maximising of pension investments, its key conclusions focus on the importance of active management of pension liabilities and risk and, in particular, the potential impact which pension deficits may in future have on charities." 

Notes to Editors:
1. The project is sponsored by Sedgwick IFC and also supported by Lane, Clark & Peacock, Horwath Clark Whitehill and Chiswell Associates.

2. The report was developed by the CFDG Pensions Taskforce, chaired by Peter Griffiths (Hon.Treasurer, John Grooms) and comprising Shirley Scott (Chief Executive, CFDG), Penny Cogher and Xenia Frostick (Pensions Lawyers, Speechly Bircham), Simon Hill (Head of Pensions Fund Marketing, Chiswell Associates), Sophie Chapman (Policy Officer, CFDG), Ian Harris (Founder of Z/Yen), Keith Hickey (Finance Director, Help the Aged), Simon Neville (Senior Consultant, Sedgwick IFC), Paul Palmer (Professor of Voluntary Sector Management at the CASS Business school), Rev. Michael Shaw (Executive Director of John Grooms and active member of ACEVO), Ian Theodoreson (Finance Director, Barnardos),

3. The Taskforce commissioned research company TPFP Ltd to conduct research into the current state of pensions in the charity sector. The results of the survey are included in the report.
4. CFDG responded to the Department for Work and Pensions Green Paper on Pensions 'Simplicity Security and Choice: - Working and Saving For Retirement' and the accompanying paper on the simplification of the pensions tax system in March 2003.

5. The Charity Finance Directors' Group was set up in 1987 as an umbrella group, that specialises in helping charities to manage their finance-related functions.

6. CFDG's 900 plus members are responsible for the finances of charities with a wide range of income levels which manage about £10 Billion in charity income per year.
Over 60% of the top 500 charities are members of the CFDG.

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