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Decisions around British Steel Pension Scheme

FOI reference - FOI-3942
Date - 12 July 2019

Request

You have requested the following information:

"All information relating to the specific decision held by the Pensions regulators office regarding the decision to offer British Steel Members the choice in the time to choose exercise and the default position being an automatic default into the PPF in regards to the formation of the RAA.

"This request includes internal minutes of meetings telephone recordings electronic mailings and should include any legal advice given during meetings telephone recording's and electronic mailings given or requested by the Regulator in the formation of the RAA made with BSPS Tata Steel UK and the PPF."

In our email to you dated 18 June 2019, we confirmed our interpretation of your request to be for:

All information held by The Pensions Regulator's [TPR] office regarding:

  1. The decision to offer British Steel Members the choice in the time to choose exercise
  2. The default position being an automatic default into the PPF

This request includes internal minutes of meetings, telephone recordings, electronic mailings and should include any legal advice given or requested by the Regulator... during the formation of the RAA [Regulated Apportionment Arrangement] alongside BSPS [British Steal Pension Scheme] Tata Steel UK and the PPF [Pension Protection Fund].

In your subsequent email dated 25 June 2019, you also confirmed that ‘held’ in the context of your request should be interpreted as all information held or owned by TPR relating to points 1 and 2 above.

Response

Under section 12 of the FoIA public authorities are not obliged to comply with a request for information where the cost of complying would exceed the appropriate limit in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/3244) which, for us, is set at £450. Staff costs are fixed at £25 per person per hour. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 hours in determining whether we hold the information, locating, retrieving and extracting it.

I can confirm that the information you have requested is held, but in line with section 12 of the FoIA we are not able to provide the information to you because this would take us between 153 and 307 hours, depending on the complexity of the documents, to locate, retrieve and extract that information. You will note that this estimate is the same as FOI-3879. This is because, although narrowing the subject matter, it requires us to check the same volume of documents for information relevant to your request.

Advice and Assistance

It may be helpful to highlight page 10 of TPR's section 89 report on the BSPS RAA which explains that:

"The provision of a successor scheme is not a requirement for us to approve an RAA, and it is unusual in the context of an RAA for members to be given this option."

It goes on to explain on page 14 of the report that:
           
"As the New BSPS proposal was made at the same time as the RAA application, it was thoroughly considered before we granted our approval of the RAA. However, it was not a determinating factor in that decision, which focused on ensuring that our published RAA criteria were satisfied."

You may also find the information contained in section 2 – points 26 to 30 of the Work and Pensions Select Committees report into British Steel Pension Scheme. This section covers 'deemed consent' and why members of BSPS had to be defaulted into the PPF. You can access this section via the following link:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmworpen/828/82805.htm#_idTextAnchor015