In the 12 months to August 2022, RPI has increased by 12.3% and CPI 9.9%. With this recent significant rise in inflation, employers and trustees have been asking what the impact of this is upon their defined benefit pension schemes. Members are also concerned that, against high inflation and a 'cost of living crisis, their pensions will maintain their value in real terms.
A number of pension funds have challenged the decision of the then-Chancellor and the UKSA to align RPI with CPIH. In this alert we discuss the outcome of that challenge and the impact of the decision on defined benefit pension schemes.
The Pension Schemes Act 2021 provided for a framework for a new defined benefit funding regime. In particular, the framework would require defined benefit schemes to have a funding and investment strategy for the purpose of ensuring benefits under the scheme can be paid over the long term. The DWP is now consulting on draft regulations which explain what this will mean for trustees in practice. Read more to find out what trustees will be required to produce along with other changes and next steps.
Writing for Professional Pensions, managing associate Chris Edwards-Earl analyses a recent employment tribunal case, Folarin v Transport for London. In the piece, Chris explains how the case highlights the growing pressures on member nominated trustees, and why it illustrates that the growth of professional trusteeship is set to continue. (£)
Writing for LexisNexis, senior knowledge development lawyer Julia Ward examines the key themes in the Pension Regulator's Annual Funding Statement 2022. This is particularly relevant for trustees and sponsors of defined benefit pension schemes with valuation dates between 22 September 2021 and 21 September 2022 by setting out how to approach valuations in the current political-economic climate.
TPR’s consultation on consolidated draft enforcement policy and updated prosecution policy aims to provide greater transparency on enforcement and prosecution
Pensions analysis: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published its consultation response and draft enforcement policy, consolidating previous policies and helping to make the enforcement powers clearer through more streamlined policy documents. Following the response, TPR has launched a further consultation on its draft enforcement and prosecution policy. Chris Edwards-Earl, senior associate at Stephenson Harwood analyses the consultations and its implications for pensions schemes.
A recent case (Butler-Sloss and others v Charity Commission for England and Wales) has been handed down where the court has permitted the trustees of two charities to adopt an ESG-based investment strategy. This is notwithstanding that the trustees acknowledged that the investment strategy would provide a lower rate of return in the short-term when compared with other, less restrictive, investment strategies.
Writing for Professional Pensions, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl discusses two recently published cases where the Pensions Regulator exercised its moral hazard powers, which have been recently strengthened by the Pension Schemes Act 2021. (£)
Pensions analysis: It seems that it is now full steam ahead for the introduction of pension dashboards. A pension dashboard will be an online platform that can be used by pension scheme members to access information about all of their occupational pension schemes (including the State Pension) in one place. It is the responsibility of the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) to design and implement the infrastructure that will make pensions dashboards work. The government is currently consulting on draft regulations which set out the detailed framework for the provision and operation of this service, as well as the obligations on occupational pension schemes to onboard onto a dashboard.
The level of cybercrime continues to grow at an unprecedented rate in the UK and across the globe, with UK Government figures from 2021 showing that nearly 40% of businesses surveyed had suffered cyber security breaches or attacks in the last year. Over recent years the threat of attacks has been exacerbated by the increase in staff working from home, and from increased political tensions and activity from hostile states.
Last month, the trustee of the Mitchells & Butlers pension plan secured a victory in court to rectify the plan’s rules. In addition to rectification, the judgment deals with issues including proper consultation with the plan actuary for valid amendments and the principle of bona fide purchaser for value without notice as a bar to rectification. Chris Edwards-Earl looks at these issues in a recent article published in Professional Pensions.
Trustees should be aware that they will have new obligations with respect to statutory transfers out from 30 November 2021. The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Conditions for Transfers) Regulations 2021 will provide trustees with new obligations in a bid to protect members from transfers to scam arrangements. The regulations will require further transfer due diligence checks from trustees before a transfer can be made and will prevent transfers where 'red flags' are present. The regulations also require trustees to ensure that members receive scam advice from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) where certain warning signs are present.
Writing for the Financial Times' Pensions Expert, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl discusses the Pensions Regulator's consultation on a new code for Contribution Notices.