Changes to National Trust staff salary pension scheme announced

The National Trust has today (29 July 2015) announced its intention to close its final salary pension scheme (NTRDBS) to future accrual on 31 March 2016.  This follows a period of consultation with members of staff and the Trust’s recognised trades union Prospect.

The final salary pension scheme closed to new entrants in 2003 and therefore the proposed changes will impact around 1,200 members of staff or approximately 16% of our permanent workforce.

The closure comes as a result of the most recent valuation of the scheme in April 2014 which showed a deficit of £116m (as at 5 April 2014).  This figure has increased from £69m since our last three-year valuation in 2011.

Whilst we are going ahead with our plans to close our final salary pension scheme we have taken a number of steps to mitigate the potential impact on members of staff.  These include delaying implementation until 31 March 2016 and deciding not to remove the link with final salary.  As the result of the feedback we received during consultation we have also made positive changes to our original proposals for death-in-service and ill-health benefits from 31 March 2016.

On closure of the final salary pension scheme members of staff will be eligible to join 2,500 colleagues in our defined contribution pension scheme. In this scheme we match any contributions members of staff make between 4% and 10% although they can choose to contribute more if they so wish.

In order to safeguard accrued benefits we have agreed with the Pension Scheme Trustees to significantly increase our deficit recovery payments from £3m a year now to £8.5m a year from 2016. This will increase by CPI+1% year on year until 2029.

These proposed changes do not impact on the benefits of existing pensioners or deferred members of the defined benefit scheme.

Not so common: where is the Common Blue?

Conservationists are seeking the help of millions of holidaymakers heading to the coast this summer in a bid to solve the mystery of a disappearing butterfly.

Common Blue at Cogden, National Trust beach in Dorset. Credit John Newbold

Common Blue at Cogden, National Trust beach in Dorset. Credit John Newbold

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National Trust responds to Amber Rudd’s speech on climate change

In her first major speech as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd has today set out the government’s approach to combating climate change.

A National Trust spokesperson said: “Climate change is having major impacts on the natural and historic environment. We aim to play our part in reducing emissions from our own activities through our renewables programme. We want to see strong leadership from the government abroad. This must be backed up by an ambitious set of polices to reduce emissions and the impact of climate change at home.”

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Thank you National Lottery players!

Today the National Trust is taking stock and saying a big #ThankYouThursday to everyone that has purchased a National Lottery ticket and indirectly helped us to complete some amazing projects in our gardens over the past 21 years.

In fact, across 17 garden related projects we have received an incredible £19.07 million. Continue reading

HS2 Committee unlikely to accept fully bored tunnel through the Chilterns AONB

Mr Robert Syms MP, Chair of the High Speed Rail Bill Select Committee, delivered a statement on 21st July to the effect that the Select Committee is strongly of the view that the case for a long tunnel has not been made, and that without prejudicing the arguments the Committee may hear from future petitioners the Committee believes it is unlikely that an overwhelming case will be made out for a long tunnel option through the Chilterns.

Richard Hebditch, the National Trust’s External Affairs Director responded to this announcement: “We’re disappointed that the Committee already seem to be ruling out a long tunnel under the Chilterns.

“Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have that designation because of their importance to the nation. As the nation’s biggest infrastructure project for decades, the HS2 project should have the best mitigation for its route through the AONB. In our view, that means a fully bored tunnel. We hope that the Committee will think again on this when they hear from individual petitioners in the coming months.”

Wartime tunnels open at the White Cliffs of Dover

Second World War tunnels built on the orders of Winston Churchill underneath the White Cliffs of Dover, have opened to visitors for the first time following a two-year conservation project involving over 50 volunteers.

Fan Bay Deep Shelter, for blog post, credit Richard Crowhurst Corvidae (1)

Fan Bay Deep Shelter. Copyright National Trust, credit Richard Crowhurst Corvidae

Fan Bay Deep Shelter was built in the 1940s as part of Dover’s offensive and defensive gun batteries, which were designed to prevent German ships moving freely in the English Channel. The shelter was personally inspected by Winston Churchill in June 1941.

Carved out of the chalk cliffs, the shelter accommodated four officers and up to 185 men of other ranks during bombardments in five bomb-proof chambers and also had a hospital and secure store. It was decommissioned in the 1950s and filled in two decades later.

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National Trust statement on volunteering

Volunteers currently support the National Trust by performing over 200 different roles, including as room guides, rangers, event managers, conservation assistants and even business mentors.

In the last ten years, the Trust has seen its volunteer community grow to over 61,000, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.

The number of volunteers, who support us on a regular basis, remains unchanged at around 40,000 and interest in volunteering at the Trust remains high. In some places there are even waiting lists in place for volunteers.

We however recognise that demographic patterns are changing: people will retire later and may find themselves caring for grandchildren or elderly parents.

The way people will want to volunteer their time is also likely to change in future. Our research shows people want a more flexible approach to fit in with their busy lives.

We are already responding to this challenge and have been working with staff and volunteers for a number of years to adapt our approach. This helped inform our 10-year volunteering strategy, which also looked at how we can make sure we continue to be attractive to new volunteers.

We know people will only give up their time if they enjoy volunteering at the Trust and that their skills, passion and interests are well-matched to the roles they are offered.

In our 2014 volunteer survey, 97% said they enjoyed their volunteering with the NT. And 96% said they would recommend volunteering with the NT.

We’re always keen to hear from people who want to volunteer with us. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the volunteer opportunities available should contact their local property or look at our website.