THOUSANDS of members of the Dorset county pension fund are being told their savings are continuing to do well – despite the pandemic and economic uncertainty.

The latest figures from the fund also show a rising number of people taking early retirement or redundancy – only around 10 per cent of the year’s retirees took their pension at their state retirement age.

During the last full year 825 fund members took early retirement; 32 opted for flexible retirement; 32 took their pension because of ill health and 173  because of redundancy or business efficiency, 131 took a late retirement pension and just 121 took their pension at the expected time.

The estimated value of the pension fund’s assets at the end of September 2020 was £3,045M compared to £2,696M at the start of the financial year.

Fund board chairman, Dorchester councillor Andy Canning, is his overview of the latest annual report, says that in 2019-20 the fund’s assets had risen and then suffered market falls as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic kicked in.

“Since April 2020 we have seen a significant recovery from these lows, but the outlook is still very uncertain, and we anticipate more volatility over the remainder of this financial year,” he said.

Figures before this week’s meeting of the board show almost 74,000 local people either paying into, or being paid out of the fund.

Both unitary councils in the county are members along with many other public sector organisations including schools and universities, Tricuro and some housing associations.

The number of active contributors in the Fund fell from an adjusted 26,369 in 2018-19 to 24,548 in 2019-20, a decrease of 6.9%, whilst the number of those taking a pension rose during 2019-20 by 4.3% to 23,330 including dependents.

Of these thirty pensioners or dependents are over 100 years old (16 women and 14 men), the oldest being 105 years old.

Both of the unitary councils have more people receiving pensions from the fund than paying into it - Dorset Council has 6,494 active members and 11,114 pensioners which the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has 4,803 active member and 6,387 pensioners. The figures show similar ratios for Weymouth College and Magna Housing.

On March 31st 2020 the Fund had a total membership of 73,959 split into 24,548 active members, 26,081 deferred members and 23,330 pensioners, including dependents. The fund membership is split 70.9% women and 29.1% men.