Our 2016 - 2019 Corporate Plan video transcript
David Hannant: Hello and welcome to this Q and A on The Pensions Regulator's Corporate Plan for 2016 to 2019. I'm joined by the Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator Lesley Titcomb, hello Lesley.
Lesley Titcomb: Hi David
David: We'll be asking her a few questions about the content of the plan and what it means for the regulator in the next few years. So Lesley, we've just published the Corporate Plan can you give us an idea of the focus of the plan and a few of the key priorities that there are in it as well.
Lesley: It's probably worth just saying a little bit about how we developed the plan, so what we've done is we've looked at the evolving landscape around pensions and in particular we've looked at what we think are the key risks that might be emerging through that landscape. That's risks which are of concern obviously to the pensions industry and pensions savers but also risks to our objectives at The Pensions Regulator, and we've developed our plan off the back of that. We also have to face the fact that we're subject and everything we do is subject to more and more scrutiny and all of this is then about how we can ensure that members of pension schemes receive good outcomes. So for example, the income and retirement that they expect or knowing that their assets that are held on their behalf are held securely.
So in terms of how we're going about regulation over the next three years we're going to continue with our previously successful approach of educate, enable and enforce where necessary, because we think regulation is about all those three things. What I can emphasise though is that one of our new values in the organisation is about being bold and impartial in our decision making, and where we see the need to take bold action we will do so. In terms of our detailed priorities, you know what the organisation is actually going to be focusing on for the coming 12 months I think I can highlight two there. It will come as no surprise to everybody that auto enrolment remains one of our key priorities, how we get that huge number, more than a million of small and micro employers to do what they need to do for their employees, that's one. And the other one which I'd like to highlight is that we're going to be focusing very much in looking at master trusts, looking at the risks that they pose to members and seeing what we can do to mitigate those risks. That goes for everything, from working with government to look at for example whether the legislative framework needs changing, to actually going out there and talking to master trusts, understanding their business models and thinking about things like their financial strength.
David: OK so can you talk a little bit more about how TPR will achieve the outcomes that they're looking for from this Corporate Plan, and how members will be protected?
Lesley: Well if you think about for example one of our objectives which is around ensuring members receive the benefits to which they're entitled, protecting the members benefits, then you know this cuts across DB schemes, defined benefit schemes, where obviously we'll continue to work to ensure that employers meet the promises that they've made to the members and the members get what they're expecting from those schemes. We also want to drive up the standards of governance and administration in DC schemes and we've been looking already for example at trustee capabilities and we'll be doing more in that area. And then also obviously in public sector schemes we are now the regulator with responsibility for looking at governance and administration there as well so we'll be having a focus on making sure that those schemes are doing what they need to do in order to provide good member outcomes as well. And above all as I've said we have to continue with auto enrolment as well and making sure that employers do what they need to do there.
But there are some new areas that we need to get into as well so for example how can we help members help themselves? And perhaps the best example here is how can we get the industry to provide information to members to enable them to understand what savings they're going to have available for their retirement so we're going to be exploring the idea of a pensions dashboard which would bring together members' savings of different types and show them what they had and what position they were in for retirement. It's a big challenge that one but we are going to start exploring it.
And then also we want to just make sure we do the sensible things like what you might call the hygiene stuff, so are people sending in their returns, are schemes sending in their returns, when they should? Are they updating us with the details of trustees and that kind of thing. So just making sure that the hygiene factors are looked after as well.
David: OK, getting into some of the detail then of the plan, the regulator's made a commitment to a 17% reduction in the costs of scheme regulation by 2019 and in the automatic enrolment side there's also a significant reduction in spending between now and 2021, so how are you going to make sure that the aims of the plan are delivered while making sure that these reductions in costs are also kept to?
Lesley: Sure, well I mean we're a public sector body so we have had to scrutinise very carefully what we're spending and meet some of the challenges from the overall public spending review in what we do. But I am confident that we have the resources that we need to do our job. Now you've talked for example about the reduction in the amount of money allocated to the auto enrolment programme and it's true there's a significant reduction in that. But it's also true that the levels of compliance by employers, ie actually getting on and doing what they're supposed to be doing under that programme, are much better than was expected in the original plan. And that's enabled us to take some cost out of that programme because we're not having to prod them, nudge them, kick them as hard as perhaps we'd thought we were going to have to do. So that's good news and that's, you know, reductions in spending for the right reasons.
On the scheme regulation side, what we've done there is that we have very much preserved the amount of resource indeed we're increasing the amount of resource that we're putting in to front line regulation and we've looked very carefully at our support functions, at our back office and we are looking there to make savings to do things more efficiently and effectively. We then expect to be able to maintain the amount of resource that we apply to regulation and then make those savings through efficiencies in the back office.
David: OK, thank you very much Lesley, thank you for watching everyone, for more information on anything that Lesley has been saying there you can see our Corporate Plan on the website which is www.tpr.gov.uk.