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TPR drives up pension standards and safeguards more schemes

Ref: PN20-21

Issued: Thursday 16 July 2020

The Pensions Regulator publishes its Annual Report and Accounts for 2019-20

The Pension Regulator’s (TPR) 2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts (ARA), published today, shows how TPR has driven up industry standards and safeguarded more schemes than ever.

The ARA highlights TPR’s chief successes over the past financial year, including:

  • Completing the national roll out of auto enrolment (AE) duties to employers with 98% of eligible job holders - more than 10.2 million people - now in a qualifying scheme.
  • 38 master trusts (MT) have been authorised meaning 16 million members and £38.5 billion are in better-protected schemes.
  • Direct contact with more schemes than ever through our supervisory approach - covering about two-thirds of UK memberships.
  • Deficit repair contributions up £11.4 billion and average length of recovery plans re-submitted to TPR falling from 7.5 years to 7.1 years.
  • Initiating four regulatory initiatives, driving up standards in record-keeping, reducing recovery plan lengths and balancing deficit repair contributions and investment governance.
  • A rapid and controlled response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring our staff’s safety, continuation of our strategic recovery objectives and providing quick and clear guidance to the pensions industry and stakeholders to enable them to deal with the crisis.
  • Use of powers: Former charity chairman Patrick McLarry received a five-year jail sentence - the longest prison term TPR has secured - for a £250,000 fraud. And a firm was fined £350,000 for failing to fully comply with AE duties.

TPR Chairman Mark Boyle said: “Our Annual Report demonstrates how our clear, quick, tough approach left us in an excellent position to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of the financial year.

“Our organisational structure and culture provided a solid base for our COVID response. We have continued to support those we regulate to manage risks and protect pension scheme benefits in an effective, confident and organised way.

“Undoubtedly, we will continue to be affected by external challenges - but I’m confident we will be able to maintain our focus on our statutory duties and ensure workplace pensions continue to work.”

Charles Counsell, who joined TPR as its chief executive in April 2019, said: “This year we’ve been able to ensure more people save into workplace pensions, that more is being contributed into workplace pensions and that there has been a reduction in recovery plan lengths across defined benefit schemes and there is better protection for the 16 million savers through our master trust authorisation process.

“Every saver deserves to be in a well-run and well-governed pension scheme and we have successfully driven up standards across schemes thank to our supervisory approach. We have been in direct contact with more schemes than ever, creating strong, two-way relationships allowing us to monitor closely, clearly outline expectations and prevent problems developing in the first place.

“I’m pleased most schemes have welcomed our engagement and responded by improving standards. This year’s four regulatory initiatives saw us starting our engagement with 1,200 schemes on issues such as scheme funding and record-keeping driving up standards further and better protecting savers’ interests.

“Post-COVID-19, we will be focusing resources on supporting those schemes that need our ongoing attention, including those affected by the pandemic. I’m confident we will be able to further drive up standards when as we look to return to our full supervisory evaluation cycle later in the year.”

TPR’s Corporate Plan, published last month, sets out TPR’s priorities for the year ahead adjusted to reflect the realities of how the COVID-19 has changed the pensions landscape.

The plan shows how TPR will continue to drive up standards in workplace pensions, tighten its regulatory grip and keep saver protection at the heart of its work.

Notes for editors

  1. Enforcement successes:
    • The Court of Appeal’s judgement giving ITV and four related entities six months from March to put in place financial support for the Box Clever pension scheme. The judgement came after eight-years of legal challenges by ITV against TPR’s attempts to safeguard the retirements of thousands of savers.
    • A five-year jail sentence, the longest custodial sentence related to a case secured by TPR to date, for a former charity chairman who admitted defrauding a pension scheme out of more than £250,000. TPR is now seeking a compensation order to retrieve the scheme’s assets.
    • A £350,000 fine for a company failing to fully comply with its AE pension duties and 48,267 fines issued for non-compliance.
    • AE compliance - approaching or over 99% for large, medium and small employers.
    • About two-thirds of scheme memberships are covered by our new supervisory approach and 33.1% of pension schemes are subject to a risk-targeted regulatory intervention.
  2. The Pensions Regulator 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).

Press contacts

Dan Menhinnitt

Media Officer
01273 349511

Matt Adams

Senior Media and Parliamentary Manager
01273 662086

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