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Board meeting summary May 2020

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

Apologies and welcomes

The Chairman welcomed all those attending the Board meeting which was held via video conference. A particular welcome was given to Non-Executive Directors, Chris Morson and Katie Kapernaros for whom this was their first formal Board meeting and to David Taylor, General Counsel of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). There were no apologies, but the Chairman noted that Non-Executive Director, Sarah Smart, would leave the meeting at 11.30 as had been agreed. The Chairman wished good health to those present and their friends and families.

Conflicts of interest

The Chairman advised of the decision to exclude detailed operational case updates. No conflicts of interests were declared during the meeting.

The Chairman’s update

To allow the incoming Chairman to influence Board membership and to provide a realistic timeline for recruitment (in response to Covid-19), extensions of one year have been agreed in principle to the contracts of David Martin, Robert Herga and Kirstin Baker, pending Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) paperwork.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has started the TPR Chair recruitment process and would welcome any nominations from the Board and their networks.

The search is underway for the successor to Andrew Long, Chair of the Determinations Panel. A procurement process for a head-hunter has commenced with the project on track to meet Andrew’s leaving date of March 2021.

The Chairman has held numerous meetings notably with DWP, the Chairs of other arm’s-length bodies (ALBs), the Chairs of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) and the UK Regulators’ Network. Information has been fed from these meetings into the business via the CEO and ExCo and regular calls with NEDs.

CEO’s report

The CEO, Charles Counsell, introduced the item, noting the different reporting style for this meeting which aims to link Gateway decisions and risk assessments in particular and focuses on the impact and response to Covid-19.

Members were updated on the impact on Defined benefit (DB) schemes and TPR’s easements package for DB schemes. The CEO updated members on the impact on AE pension schemes, noting TPR’s response of a temporary reduction of enforcement activity and optional additional contribution reductions for AE pension scheme savers.

The CEO updated members that he, the Executive Director – Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice, David Fairs and Director of Communications, Liz Hickey TPR will represent TPR at the Work and Pensions Select Committee on Monday 18 May with the focus on the impact of Covid-19 on pensions.

It was noted that with DWP and Ministerial support, TPR is continuing to drive forward the DB Code as its principles remain pertinent. The second consultation will take into account any new economic circumstances.

TPR is alert to scammers capitalising on the Covid-19 crisis. While confident that tools and checks are fit for purpose.

A workforce planning tool has been used to prioritise TPR’s regulatory activities.

Draft annual report and accounts 2019 / 2020

The aim remains to publish the Annual Report and Accounts (ARA) before the summer recess, while being mindful that the Corporate Plan is also being developed in parallel by the same team. The National Audit Office is currently performing the external audit and, at the time of meeting, have reported no red flags. The internal audit opinion is moderate assurance.

The need for further mention of the pensions dashboard and Covid-19 in the foreword and that the Corporate Plan will be published before the ARA were agreed.

The Board noted the Draft Annual Report and Accounts 2019 / 2020.

Board effectiveness review

The Board discussed the report and agreed the actions therein.