Developments in Employee Benefits law and practice

20 October 2019

Pension Schemes Bill introduced in Parliament  

The Pension Schemes Bill announced in the recent Queen’s Speech has been introduced in Parliament. Provisions in the Bill cover:

  • new powers for the Pensions Regulator
  • measure to enable employers to establish Collective DC schemes)
  • framework to support pensions dashboards
  • transfer restrictions aimed at combating pension scams.

On a related note, the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) has published a report outlining results from the ACA's 2019 Pension Trends Survey. According to the results there is broad support for measures in the Pension Schemes Bill with 76% of employers saying all pension schemes should be required by legislation to provide data to the pension dashboard(s).

Retirement Living Standards published by PLSA

A new set of “retirement living standards”, to help people set savings goals for later life, by giving them a clearer idea of how much cash they might need, has been launched by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA). The standards are designed to try and give people a picture of the kind of lifestyle they may have on a minimum, moderate or comfortable retirement income.

The PLSA has also published three Made Simple guides, covering Cashflow Driven Investment (CDI), Indices and Benchmarks, and Defined Benefit Pension Scheme De-risking (a guide to the full range of de-risking options on offer).

How the UK save 

Nest Insight and Vanguard have published research, using data from Nest, examining the enrolment, savings, investment and engagement activity of workers. 
Highlights from How the UK Saves 2019 are:

  • Momentum remains strong for auto enrolment, with the past fiscal year seeing Nest’s membership increase to nearly 8 million members across 826,000 employers.
  • While the majority of members have been automatically enrolled by their employer, over 250,000 people have actively signed up to Nest, many of which are on very low incomes. The data shows that these people are more likely to be women, in particular those earning less than £10,000 per year and those under the age of 25.
  • The gender pensions gap remains, with analysis revealing that at Nest median pension pot balances for women are 79% of the median balance for men. Recent research from Nest Insight and Vanguard, found this disparity to be driven by structural factors in the UK labour market.
  • Member engagement is more and more facilitated by technology, with webchat tools becoming increasingly popular, and mobile and tablet devices becoming the dominant channel for members’ digital interaction with Nest.

Public consultation on the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (General Levy)

A public consultation seeking views on the Department for Work and Pensions proposal to increase the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (General Levy) rates from April 2020 has been opened on 18 October 2019. Four options have been proposed to ensure levy revenue is realigned with ongoing expenditure and to remedy the deficit. The consultation closes at midday on 15 November 2019.The four options proposed are:

  1. 10% increase on 2019–2020 levy rates with a further increase in April 2021 following a further review
  2. phased increase of levy rates over three years commencing in April 2020
  3. phased increase of levy rates over ten years commencing in April 2020
  4. phased increase of levy rates over ten years commencing in April 2021 

Brexit update

  • The UK government and the European Commission reached agreement at negotiators' level on a revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland to the withdrawal agreement, and a revised political declaration on the framework for the future relationship.
  • The House of Commons agreed the Business of the House motion setting out the procedure for the debate and vote on the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on 19 October 2019 for the purposes of section 1(1)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (Benn Act) and section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act.
  • At the debate and vote, MPs supported a motion tabled by Independent MP Sir Oliver Letwin that “withholds approval” for Boris Johnson's Brexit deal until legislation implementing it has been passed.

Julian Rowe | Policy, Professionalism & Research | email: