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Board meeting summary December 2020

A summary of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) Board meeting in December 2020.

Apologies and welcomes

The Chair welcomed all those attending including David Taylor, Pension Protection Fund (PPF) General Counsel and two recent recruits to the Corporate Secretariat team, who were attending as observers.

No apologies were received from Board members, but one member was having technical difficulties and would join the meeting later.

Declarations of conflicts of interest

The Board had been provided with notice of case discussions in advance and declarations were received from two members, both of whom had received redacted versions of the papers and both would recuse themselves at the appropriate time.

Two further members had made known their conflict in relation to a scheme mentioned in the CEO’s report. The Board agreed their recusal was unnecessary as the information in the report is in the public domain and the scheme was not being discussed.

There were no further declarations of conflicts of interest.

The Chair’s update

Members were updated on the recruitment campaign for the next Chair. Department for Work and Pensions representatives were content with TPR’s contingency plan should a new appointment not be made, or the successful candidate not be able to take up post, by 1 April 2021. However, checks were being made to see if Secretary of State sign off is necessary.

The ongoing strategy round table discussions had received excellent input and a number of useful suggestions for improvements had been made. An updated version of the strategy would come to the February Board meeting for information.

The Chair updated members on matters discussed at the 18 November Non-Executive Committee meeting including its members’ involvement in projects; attendance at internal committee meetings; case discussions at Board; involvement with Diversity networks; and the Defined Benefit (DB) Funding Code consultation review.

CEO report

The ongoing Strategy round table discussions had received excellent input and useful suggestions for improvements had been made.

Members commented on how difficult it can be for savers to evaluate pension schemes’ value for money and noted that although charge caps afford some protection against cost and charges, savers are vulnerable to pressure when making pensions decisions. There was discussion of the best way to engage savers. Members noted work including the Pensions Dashboard and joint Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) / TPR consumer journey paper may encourage savers’ involvement, and that a discussion with Money and Pensions Service on how TPR engages with savers as well as trustees would be helpful.

Members were updated with the current spending review position for Automatic Enrolment and Levy. It was noted that DWP budget allocation is being reviewed and it is expected that both Levy and AE funding may come under continued pressure. Members noted the risks of a reduced budget and were updated about a discussion of the funding risk that had taken place at the December Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) meeting.

Members were updated on the status of major programmes.

Case updates

Members were updated on a number of current cases and those members who had declared conflicts of interest recused themselves for the relevant discussions.

DB funding code update

Team members presented the update to Board, and highlighted the huge response to the consultation and the broad support for the concept of a twin track approach which encompassed greater clarity but with specific-scheme help and noted concerns and comments that had been considered.

Members were updated that Financial Instruments Working Group (FIWG) were supportive of the aims and agreed that developments were very good. Members further discussed the risks in operationalising the code including the costs and how best to measure efficiency and effectiveness.

The Chair summarised that the Board are strongly supportive of the principles and approach being taken.

ARAC biannual report

The paper was introduced by the Chair of the ARAC who highlighted the useful contributions of the two new ARAC members and the recent helpful connection made with the Chair of the FCA Risk Committee.

Areas discussed included the risks out of appetite recently referred to the Board and the impact of the pandemic on regulatory assurance resources.


Further to discussion, the Board approved the amendments to the Schedule of Delegations including the delegation to ExCo for the approval of future changes, but not including those reserved specifically to the Board.

Subject to ongoing legal clarification on the Non-Executive Committee Terms of Reference around delegation of responsibilities, the Board approved the Standing Orders and the Board Code of Conduct.

The Chairman introduced the Annual Governance Report and members reviewed the suggested actions for the recommendations coded ‘amber’ in the Review of the Effectiveness of the Board and Committees report. Members agreed that the Board Skills Matrix was a very useful document and provided good information for future Board recruitment.

Any other business

The General Counsel of the PPF provided an update on the organisation.