We will be adding more answers to FAQs on a regular basis, so please revisit soon.

Click below to download the FAQs

1 - Where can I get more details about my pension?

You may find the latest edition of the CRISP booklet has the answers you need.  This can be found here.

If you can't find the answer you need on our website then, please go to the Contact Us page.

2 - I am in CRISP, however when I retire will I be able to claim a state pension as well as the company pension?

A:  Yes, you will be able to claim the Basic State Pension provided you have paid sufficient NI contributions over your full working life. You can ask the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) for a pensions forecast on a form BR19. You can download this form from www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement. To apply for a statement by phone, call 0845 3000 168.

There is however, a second level of State Pension, now called State Second Pension formerly known as the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS). 

If you are a member of CRISP both the Basic State Pension and the State Second Pension are payable in addition to the pension you receive in respect of your membership of CRISP.

3 - Can a common-law partner receive the pension that would otherwise be paid to a spouse?

A:  Spouse pensions under CRISP, if there is no legal spouse, can be paid to a dependant at the discretion of the Trustees. There will need to have been a financial interdependency that existed between you and your partner that can be evidenced to the satisfaction of the Trustees before they will consider payment of a dependants pension. Such evidence is likely to include a mortgage/rent book in joint names; joint bank accounts; utility bills in joint names etc. 

Members are welcome to advise the Trustees of any common-law partner that they would wish a dependants pension to be paid to in the event of their death – however the Trustees would still investigate the position at death to determine whether a financial interdependency still existed.

For a spouses pension on death after retirement this will depend on the type of annuity bought at retirement.

4 - What are AVCs?

A:  Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) are simply a way in which you can increase your retirement benefits by paying extra contributions. There is no company contribution.

  • They are entirely voluntary
  • Tax relief is given on contributions in exactly the same way as normal CRISP contributions
  • The AVCs will be invested in the same way as the main CRISP contributions are invested.
  • They grow tax free
  • They can boost retirement benefits, e.g. for those who may retire early or may have changed jobs and started saving for pension relatively late on in their careers.
5 - What are Free-Standing AVCs?

A:  Since April 1988 members of an occupational pension scheme have had the option to contribute to an AVC arrangement outside of the main occupational scheme.

This arrangement is known as a ‘Free-Standing Additional Voluntary Contribution Scheme’ but it should be noted that it is only ‘Free-Standing in that it is invested outside of the investment choice provided by Compass Group.

On retirement, benefits from a ‘Free-Standing’ AVC must still be aggregated with your other pension entitlements and they therefore count towards the Revenue maximum and are not in addition to it.

6 - What advice can you give me regarding my pension?

A:  Unfortunately, we are not in a position to offer advice, we can only present the options.  If you have any doubts about your pension you should approach an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA).

7 - How can a member locate a 'good' Independent Financial Adviser (IFA)?

A:  There is an IFA website www.unbiased.co.uk. This website will recommend advisers in your local area that you can then contact. At the end of the day you need to be ‘comfortable’ with the advice you are given. Quite often this will be through a recommendation from a friend or relative who has already used an IFA. As a simple guide:

  • Financial Advisors must pass the Financial Planning certificate to level 3 to qualify to give advice.
  • You could check whether your IFA has specialised their service by seeing if they have taken the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate.

IFAs can often obtain the product cheaper than individuals can even if they went direct to the insurance companies or the investment house themselves.

8 - Should I be contracted in or out of the State Second Pension or S2P (formerly SERPS)?

A:  Since April 2012 it is not now possible to contract out of S2P even through a Personal Pension.

9 - What happens to my pension during periods of maternity leave?

A:  For periods of paid maternity leave or while you are receiving statutory maternity pay, your contributions are based on the pay that you actually receive and Employer contributions, however, will be based on notional pay, being the pay you would have received if you were not absent.

During periods of unpaid maternity leave, neither you nor your employer pays contributions. If you exercise your statutory or contractual right to return to work, your CRISP membership is treated as continuous. 

During periods of paid or unpaid maternity leave, death in service benefits will continue to be provided but, where appropriate, they will be based upon the pay that you would have received if you had not been absent.  If you participate in Smarter Pensions you should also refer to the FAQs section within the ‘Smarter Pensions’ section of this website.

10 - I have joined CRISP. However, can I transfer across pension rights I had built up with a previous employer or in a Personal Pension?

A:  Yes, CRISP can accept transfers in. 

If your former arrangement was a final salary scheme then you should question very seriously whether this would be in your best interest, as you would be giving up benefits that are ‘guaranteed’ in a final salary plan for a money purchase benefit, which has no such guarantees. The ultimate pension will be determined by investment returns and annuity rates (i.e. the cost of converting a lump sum into a pension). You are strongly advised to seek independent financial advice.

If, on the other hand, your previous scheme was a money purchase arrangement then again it is possible but you do need to proceed with caution.  Firstly, there are no guarantees that the investment if transferred to CRISP will perform any better than where it is currently invested. Secondly, it is quite possible that your current provider would not offer a full 100% transfer so your investment if moved to CRISP will be starting from a lower base.

11 - I am unsure who to contact regarding changes to my contribution rates and investment choices under CRISP. Who is the correct contact?

A:  The deduction of contributions and payment of these to the investment manager is the responsibility of Payroll. Consequently, if you wish to change the rate of contributions, this needs to be advised to Payroll in the first instance.

The investment of your contributions and those of the Company is handled by Friends Life, so if you wish to change the way contributions are being invested, you will need to contact Friends Life directly. You can do this by going into your CRISP account with Friends Life on-line.

12 - What benefits will I be entitled to upon leaving Compass?

A:  The benefits you are immediately entitled to depend on your age.

If you are over 55 you may be able to take an immediate early retirement pension otherwise both your own and the Company’s contributions will remain in you CRISP account and will participate in future investment returns, and will be used to provide a pension for you on retirement (any time after age 55).

13 - How will I find out about my entitlement when I leave?

A:  You will automatically receive details of your fund at date of leaving directly from Friends Life. In any event members can manage their account online, including switching investment choices, even after they have left the Company.

14 - Can I contribute further to my pension once I leave?

A:  No. All contributions cease on your date of leaving.

15 - I have been made redundant and am being paid in lieu of notice. Is the notice period pensionable?

A:  No, pensionable service ceases on the day your employment terminates regardless as to whether or not you have received pay in lieu.

16 - What happens to my deferred pension between date of leaving and retirement date?

A:  The contributions made by you and the Company into CRISP will remain invested and will participate fully in the investment return of your chosen fund(s), and you can continue to change your investment choice as often as you like through your on-line access.

17 - What about my Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) after I have left?

A:  Your AVCs are treated in the same way as your main scheme benefits, so if your main scheme is deferred then your AVCs remain invested and will participate in the investment returns of your chosen funds(s) and will then be used to buy a pension at the time you start to draw your main scheme benefits.  Similarly, if you choose to transfer your main CRISP fund elsewhere, then your AVC fund will be transferred too.

18 - Can I transfer my benefit elsewhere once I leave service?

A:  Rather than leave your accrued fund value within the Compass arrangements, you may transfer the value of your pension to your new employers’ scheme or to a Personal pension or individual insurance contract. The new scheme must be an Inland Revenue approved arrangement.

You have the right to transfer at any time from your date of leaving up to 12 months before your Normal Retirement Date.

You should ask your new pension provider to write direct to the Compass Group Pensions Department.

19 - Where can I find further information?

A:  You can write direct to the Compass Group Pensions Department at:

5th Floor, Halford House
2 Coval Lane

Or email pensions@compass-group.co.uk


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