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TPR tightens its regulatory grip to deliver better outcomes for pension savers

Ref: PN19-22

Issued: Thursday 16 May 2019

The Pensions Regulator publishes its Corporate Plan for 2019 – 2022

Improving the participation, accountability, protection and confidence in occupational pension schemes forms the heart of The Pension Regulator’s (TPR) new corporate plan, published today.

Charles Counsell, Chief Executive of TPR, said: “We are publishing this plan at a time of great change in both the pensions landscape and the way TPR works.

“By driving up participation in workplace pensions and holding those we regulate to account, we are protecting pension savers and the Pension Protection Fund and increasing confidence in pension saving. We are striving to deliver better retirement outcomes.”

The plan for 2019 – 2022 outlines how as part of TPR’s more proactive and targeted approach hundreds more schemes will be contacted in the coming year. 

Communications clarifying duties and TPR’s expectations will be sent to defined benefit (DB) schemes, newly authorised master trusts, defined contribution (DC) schemes and new employers with auto enrolment responsibilities.

TPR’s new supervision team is already building one-to-one relationships with larger schemes. It is supervising more than 20 schemes and this approach is being rolled out to many more. This will ensure TPR better understands the challenges schemes face and identifies potential future risk.

At the same time communications are being sent to more than a thousand schemes this year to monitor how savers are being treated when it comes to matters such as dividend payments to shareholders, length of recovery plans and efficient record-keeping. Action will be taken where standards are not met.

TPR will also use a ‘rapid response’ team to respond more quickly to reports and intelligence about companies or major restructuring plans. These actions will extend TPR’s grip to far more schemes than in the past.

Mark Boyle, Chairman of TPR, said: “Trustees, employers and increasingly savers know we are taking a clear, quick and tough approach when holding to account those who fail to do the right thing by their scheme members.

“The past year has seen our first prosecution for fraud, our first custodial sentence, and the courts handing down the largest ever fine following a TPR prosecution. We have also seen a number of high profile cases being resolved, including Southern Water agreeing to pay £50 million into its pension scheme under a shortened recovery plan.

“This year our corporate plan goes further to define the key outcomes that we aim to achieve through our work, and how we will evaluate those outcomes to demonstrate the effectiveness of our role.”

Building on last year’s joint strategy with the FCA on tackling key risks facing the pensions sector, TPR and the FCA will launch a joint review of the consumer pensions journey. This will explore how disclosures and information from pension schemes and providers combine with guidance and advice services to help pension savers make well-informed decisions.

TPR will also continue to work actively FCA and the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS) on DB to DC transfers to ensure that they work effectively for those who want to transfer, but enable savers to understand the risks involved and the options available to them.

Notes for editors

1. The process of identifying and assessing the core regulatory risks in the landscape has enabled TPR to develop its priorities for the next three years. These build on the priorities set out in last year’s Corporate Plan.

The six priorities below reflect TPR’s outlook for the next three years (2019 through to 2022). Specific activities outlined under each priority in the plan relate to the 2019 – 2020 financial year.

  • Extending our regulatory reach with a wider range of proactive and targeted regulatory interventions.
  • Providing clarity, promoting and enforcing the high standards of trusteeship, governance and administration we expect.
  • Intervening where necessary so that DB schemes are properly funded to meet their liabilities as they fall due.
  • Ensuring staff have an opportunity to save into a qualifying workplace pension, through automatic enrolment.
  • Enabling workplace pensions schemes to deliver their benefits through significant change, including responding to Brexit.
  • Building a regulator capable of meeting the future challenges we face.

2. Last year TPR published its joint strategy with the FCA where it recognised the importance of addressing the generally low levels of consumer understanding and engagement, and the potential for poor advice and pension scams.

3. TPR 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 TPR’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

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