Protecting defined benefit pension schemes – a stronger Pensions Regulator
The DWP sought views on expanding and enhancing TPR’s powers through this consultation, launched June 2018. The broad range of measures to strengthen the sector, outlined in the Government’s White Paper in March 2018, are important to helping TPR do its job effectively.
While the PLSA is supportive of the underlying principles of the proposals, much more detail will need to be provided to ensure that the new powers work and are proportionate. Here, we provide views on the plans to strengthen TPR and suggestions on additional issues the Government should consider.
There is concern that with the new information gathering powers being sought, there is a risk of “information overload” for TPR, which may mean that the regulator may not be able to take timely and meaningful action, and in a way that does not impede normal corporate behaviour. Trustees should also be given the tools they need to be able to act as a first line of defence, which may also help to reduce the administrative burden on TPR over time.
It is currently unclear how often the new civil and criminal sanctions powers are intended to be used, and how they will fit into the criminal justice system. TPR should remain flexible in its approach and not seek to apply sanctions automatically. There must be a joined up approach with criminal justice agencies and further clarity around the formal stages leading to enforcement action are needed. Where the money collected from the new fines will go must also be addressed properly.