CIPFA treasurer quits over pension deficit concern

CONCERN over CIPFA’s strategy to control its pension deficit has driven the institute’s treasurer to quit his role.

Ian Perkin, who became well known for blowing the whistle on data issues at St George’s Hospital Trust prior to a tribunal ruling that he had been unfairly dismissed, has quit with a year left on his term in the honorary role.

He was elected by members as treasurer in 2010, with one of the key planks of his manifesto being to raise the issue of CIPFA’s pension deficit – which currently stands at nearly £20m under FRS 17 accounting rules.

His election afforded Perkin a role as chairman of CIPFA’s group board, where he could influence and raise issues regarding its pensions strategy. However, as he began his fourth year as honorary treasurer, the group board role was removed.

Perkin is now calling on CIPFA to commit to using a large portion of any profit from the sale of its Robert Street head office next year to pay down the deficit.

“There should be a substantial surplus, my view is there should be a commitment to pay off 20% of the [balance sheet] deficit. The scheme is heavily invested in equities, we could quite easily see the equity market crash and the deficit would shoot up,” said Perkin.

CIPFA’s 2013 annual report states that the deficit “poses a long-term issue” for the institute, but it plans to fund the deficit over the next 14 years. New student numbers have doubled in the past year (to 812 from 394), while it is looking to expand its international reach.

A CIPFA spokesman said: “It is a shame that Ian has decided to resign from his role as honorary treasurer, but we should be clear that this is because he wasn’t made chair of the group board and not for any other reason.

“The decision to separate the role of group board chair and honorary treasurer was taken with the agreement of full council as no other accountancy institute links the two roles and it is not best governance practice.

“It is unfortunate that Ian has chosen to muddy the waters with other issues, especially as in his capacity of chair of the board he helped guide, form and sign off the strategies that he is now criticising.”

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