Developments in Employee Benefits law and practice

28 January 2019

Insolvency Service issues pension scams warning 

The Insolvency Service has issued a warning to people to guard their pension savings from investment scammers and negligent trustees, having identified over £200m of losses after closing down 24 companies for pension misuse.

The pension misuse varied from convincing people to access their pensions and invest in unregulated schemes to pension trustees not carrying out their duties properly.

The Insolvency Service has a microsite dedicated to advice about how to avoid pension scams.

Review of communications issued to BSPS workers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and The Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) have welcomed an independent review by Caroline Rookes into communications and support provided to British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) members during the 2017-18 pension restructuring exercise and the ‘Time to Choose’ exercise.
The review, commissioned by TPR, proposes a number of recommendations for the regulatory and consumer bodies to help savers make the right decision about whether to transfer their pension pots from a defined benefit scheme.
https://www.fca.org.uk/news/statements/regulatory-and-consumer-bodies-welcome-review-pension-scheme-communications-provided-steel-workers

On a related note, the FCA, TPR and TPAS have published a joint protocol.

The protocol has been drawn up for the purpose of enabling early intervention by the three bodies to ensure members of DB pension schemes are adequately and fully informed about their options when considering transferring their DB pensions. The organisations will work alongside the Pension Protection Fund as necessary and will share information to help identify potential issues that mayarise and improve communication channels when working with pension schemes.

Contracting-Out Countdown Bulletin

Countdown bulletin 41 has updates on:

  • The scheme financial reconciliation update
  • The scheme financial reconciliation in scheme cessation
  • Contributions Equivalent Premiums
  • Resubmission responses

GMP conversion and equalisation 

HMRC has reissued its guidance on GMP conversion and equalisation. The information does not, however, contain anything new following the October 2018 Lloyds Bank ruling.

Latest pensions flexibility statistics

 Year and quarter  Number of payments  Number of individuals  Total value of payments
 Total: 2015 Q2 - 2016 Q1  516,000  232,000  £4,350 m
 Total: 2016 Q2 - 2017 Q1  1,393,000  393,000  £6,450 m
 Total: 2017 Q2 - 2018 Q1  1,791,000  375,000  £6,650 m
 Total: 2018 Q2 - 2018 Q4  1,787,000  448,000  £6,130 m
 Total since inception  5,489,000  1,044,000  £23,590 m

Updated Pension Schemes Online User Guide

The Pension Schemes Online user guide contains detailed and step by step instructions on how to use the Pension Schemes Online Service hosted by HMRC. The guide is maintained and regularly updated by HMRC to reflect any changes in the service as they arise.

TPR ‘quick guide’ for measuring data

The Pensions Regulator has published a quick guide for pension scheme trustees and managers about measuring scheme data. The Regulator expects trustees and managers to review their data at least once a year, and warns that additional reviews may be needed on the occurrence of specific events, such as a change in scheme administrator or winding-up being triggered. 

TPR Brexit guide

The Pensions Regulator has issued a short statement about Brexit. The Regulator does not expect the UK’s withdrawal from the EU to have a significant impact on the legislative framework applying to schemes or on trustees’ ability to administer their schemes effectively. The statement does, however, remind trustees about several topics that have previously been raised by the Regulator or the Department for Work and Pensions:

CMA remedies timetable

The CMA has published its timetable for implementation of the remedies set out in the final report of its market investigation into the supply and acquisition of investment consultancy services and fiduciary management services to and by institutional investors and employers in the UK.

11 June 2019 - Statutory deadline for implementing remedial action

April 2019 - Notification to the European Commission of any requirements additional to MiFID II that are intended to be imposed

February 2019 - Public consultation on draft Order

12 December 2018 - Publication of final report

Contact:

John W. Wilson LLB(Hons) FPMI ACII, Head of Research| Email: john_wilson@jltgroup.com