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TPR issues maximum chair's statement fine for professional trustees

Ref: PN16-44
Wednesday 17 August 2016

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is again urging trustees of defined contribution (DC) schemes to comply with new pensions law or face a mandatory fine.

The warning comes after Pitmans Trustees Limited, a professional trustee firm, were ordered to pay three £2,000 fines. The firm failed to meet the new statutory requirement to prepare an annual governance statement signed by the chair of trustees for three separate schemes.

The maximum fine of £2,000 was imposed because the scheme had a professional trustee in place and there were no mitigating factors. TPR has issued a regulatory intervention report (PDF, 172kb, 4 pages) about the case.

TPR issued a similar warning in June after fining a scheme trustee £500 for failing to meet the same requirement.

Nicola Parish, Executive Director for Frontline Regulation at TPR, said: "Professional trustees are expected to meet a higher standard of care and to demonstrate a greater level of knowledge and understanding than other trustees.

"We will enforce the law and impose a penalty where trustees fail to prepare an annual governance statement signed by the chair of trustees.

"We are supporting trustees in numerous ways, including new web guidance and news-by-email to help them understand how to complete the new scheme return in order to demonstrate they are meeting new governance standards.

"However, schemes should be aware that this type of breach will result in a fine and we hope that our report will act as a reminder to all trustees, professional or otherwise, to ensure they complete the chair’s statement on time."

Trustees of schemes providing DC benefits are now required to provide information in their scheme return about how they comply with certain requirements of the 2015 legislation, including identifying the chair of trustees and confirming they have prepared a governance statement signed by the chair.

TPR is advising trustees about a number of changes to the scheme return so they can plan in advance. Scheme return notices requiring the revised scheme return to be provided to TPR were sent out from July this year.

Trustees are required to notify TPR of breaches via the scheme return and TPR will take action if the scheme return is not completed. The current number of warning notices issued for the failure to submit a scheme return by the due date stands at 23.

Nicola Parish added: "We will act where trustees demonstrate that they are not complying even with the basic duties we expect."

Editor's notes

  1. Occupational schemes providing money purchase benefits are now required by law to prepare an annual statement, signed by the chair of the trustees, within seven months of the end of each scheme year.
  2. 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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Matt Adams 01273 662086