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Master trusts gain independent assurance - good preparation for authorisation in 2018

Ref: PN17-09
Wednesday 8 March 2017

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has today announced that in the last six months eight more master trusts have obtained master trust assurance and been added to its list of schemes with assurance.

The framework allows trustees to obtain independent assurance that the controls they have established around their key systems and processes are in place and effective. In addition to obtaining independent assurance, TPR also carry out a number of checks relating to the scheme covering how tax relief is explained in member communications and other potential regulatory risks.

The schemes appear on TPR’s list of all schemes with assurance. Some schemes are not open for small and micro employers; to help those employers through their automatic enrolment journey, a separate TPR list shows schemes with master trust assurance which are open to all employers.

The new schemes added include:

  • Standard Life Workplace Pension (open to all employers)
  • Ascot Lloyd Benefit Solutions (open to all employers)
  • Workers Pension Trust (open to all employers)
  • The Creative Pension Trust (open to all employers)
  • The Aon MasterTrust
  • Legal & General WorkSave Master Trust Pension Scheme
  • Atlas Master Trust
  • Lifesight

Nicola Parish, Executive Director for Front Line Regulation at TPR said: "I am pleased that the number of defined contribution (DC) master trusts with independent master trust assurance continues to grow.

“The master trust assurance framework provides an important way for schemes to demonstrate they are well governed and sustainable.

“I strongly encourage all schemes which are going to apply for authorisation in 2018 to obtain master trust assurance. The authorisation process will have a focus on systems and processes and those schemes with assurance in place are likely to find that aspect of authorisation more straightforward.

"We believe that well-run master trusts which have obtained assurance, and group personal pension plans authorised by the FCA, are a good choice for employers seeking either to comply with their automatic enrolment duties or as a vehicle into which to transfer sub-scale DC schemes which they sponsor."

Authorisation is one of the features of the Pensions Schemes Bill which is currently going through the parliamentary process and is expected to be brought into force in 2018-19.

The voluntary master trust assurance framework was developed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) in association with TPR to support auditors to provide independent assurance reports for the trustees of master trusts.

Editor's notes

  1. The dates the schemes were added to the list are:
    • Standard Life Workplace Pension – September 2016
    • Legal & General WorkSave Master Trust Pension Scheme – August 2016
    • Ascot Lloyd Benefit Solutions – December 2016
    • The Creative Pension Trust – February 2017
    • The Aon MasterTrust – February 2017
    • Workers Pension Trust – February 2017
    • Atlas Master Trust – February 2017
    • Lifesight – March 2017
  2. ICAEW has published guidance on applying the assurance framework to occupational DC master trusts. The framework sets out how trustees should report against a series of 'control objectives' related to governance and administration which are aligned with TPR's DC quality features. It also sets out the procedures that independent reporting accountants should carry out. This was updated in 2016 to reflect TPR’s revised DC code.
  3. ICAEW is a professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports more than 144,000 chartered accountants in 160 countries.
  4. TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. We have objectives to: protect members’ benefits; 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).

Press contacts

Tim Marks 01273 662092

pressoffice@thepensionsregulator.gov.uk

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