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Call for trustees and employers to reassess their long-term objectives

Ref: PN24-19

Issued: Wednesday 24 April 2024

The Pension Regulator's 2024 Annual Funding Statement shows most schemes have seen material improvements in funding levels.

Well-funded defined benefit (DB) schemes have a range of options including targeting surplus generation, consolidation or buy-out with an insurance company, TPR's annual funding statement (AFS) published today sets out.

Half of schemes are expected to have exceeded their estimated buy-out funding levels and their trustees and employers have the opportunity to reassess their long-term objectives.

TPR’s Interim Director of Regulatory Analysis and Advice, Louise Davey, said: “Where funding levels have improved significantly, trustees should review objectives and strategies, set during a period of low interest rates, to ensure they remain in the best interests of members. If they are not, trustees should look to redirect some of their funding level improvements towards a funding and investment strategy that is aligned with their plans for the scheme.

“Options range from moving to a long-term target with the potential to generate additional surplus, to entering a consolidator or insurance arrangement.”

Around a quarter of schemes are expected to remain in deficit on a technical provision basis. Trustees of such schemes need to focus on achieving a recovery plan that is as short as reasonable, based on the employer’s affordability. They also need to be very mindful of the employer covenant, given their higher reliance on it.

Discretionary increases

TPR recognises that with schemes experiencing better funding, trustees face a range of calls for how that funding could be put to its best use. For example, some employers are asking to reduce or suspend contributions, and members are requesting discretionary increases. When considering these requests, trustees should be mindful of their overall position, the resilience of their investment strategy and level of covenant support.

With discretionary increases, trustees should also consider the situation of members who would benefit from a discretionary increase, and whether their scheme has a history of making such awards. 

Notes for editors

  • The AFS is for trustees and sponsoring employers of DB occupational pension schemes. It is particularly relevant to schemes with valuation dates between 22 September 2023 and 21 September 2024 (Tranche 19, or T19 valuations).
  • TPR is the regulator of workplace trust-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are to:
    • protect members’ benefits 
    • reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund
    • promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes
    • maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties
    • 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

David Morley

Media Officer (DB)
01273 662091

Matt Adams

Senior Media and Parliamentary Manager
01273 662086

Out of hours

This is for journalists only with a media enquiry. The below number will divert to our on call media officer.
01273 648496

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