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A statement from TPR on the BHS pension scheme

Ref: PN16-23
Wednesday 11 May 2016

A spokesperson for The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said: "As we have launched an anti-avoidance investigation we need to take care not to prejudice our case. We did discuss the proposed terms of a potential deal with trustees and the employer, however, we were not given sufficient information at that time to assess the potential impact on the BHS pension scheme.

"When addressing the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Lesley Titcomb said that we were not informed of the confirmation of the actual sale of BHS to Retail Acquisitions Ltd until the following day. She explained that we were engaged with the trustees and the employer in the weeks leading up to the sale, and that we were aware a sale was a possibility.

"Employers can apply to TPR for a clearance statement if they are considering actions which could be materially detrimental to a defined benefit scheme and its members. Clearance is not approval or authorisation for a transaction to proceed. The employer or the purchaser did not approach us for clearance in this case.

"Given our concerns regarding the BHS pension scheme and the circumstance relating to the sale, and in the absence of clearance, we opened an anti-avoidance investigation which superseded our earlier valuation investigation.

"We have sent a clarification to the Work and Pensions Select Committee."

Editor's notes

TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

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