A trustee has been fined £25,000 by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) for failing to complete two valuations for its defined benefit (DB) scheme.
Rentokil Initial Pension Trustee Limited failed to complete 2012 and 2015 valuations of the Initial Hospital Service Limited No.1 Pension Scheme by their respective deadlines (July 2013 and July 2016).
DB scheme trustees are required to complete valuations every three years and, if the scheme is in deficit, they must submit a recovery plan and a schedule of contributions to TPR.
As part of its clearer, quicker, tougher approach, since April 2017, TPR has issued nine Warning Notices for late valuations.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, said:
“Agreeing a triennial valuation is a key priority for the trustee of a scheme and its sponsoring employer. It allows us to check the health of a scheme and its ability to provide members with their expected retirement benefits.
“We are monitoring valuation due dates more regularly and this fine shows we will take tough action sooner to put things right where breaches occur.”
TPR was informed the reason for the delay in completing both Initial Hospital Service valuations was a planned merger with a separate scheme run by sponsoring employer, Rentokil Initial Plc.
TPR repeatedly advised the trustee that the proposed merger was not a valid reason for failing to comply with the statutory requirements and they should progress with agreeing both valuations with the employer.
When the proposed merger failed to happen and the valuations had not been submitted by the end of 2017, TPR decided to take formal action.
TPR’s Determinations Panel (DP) upheld the recommendation that the trustee should be issued with a £25,000 fine under section 10 of the Pensions Act 1995 for its failure to take all reasonable steps to complete the valuations. The DP’s findings are set out in a Determination Notice (PDF, 180kb, 35 pages) published today.
The DP’s decision highlights a “flagrant disregard by the trustee of its obligation and the role of the regulator, putting members at risk”. The scheme has approximately 140 members.
The Trustee did not dispute the DP’s findings and the fine has been paid.
In addition, TPR also issued an Improvement Notice to the trustee and a Third Party Notice to the sponsoring employer in April under sections 13 and 14 of the Pensions Act 2004, which required both outstanding valuations to be submitted to TPR by the end of May. Both valuations have been received.
Nicola Parish commented: “The behaviours in this case were so severe that, not only did we issue Improvement Notices, we also recommended to the Determinations Panel that a fine should be imposed at a level that would be likely to improve behaviours in the future and be an effective deterrent for other trustees. We are pleased the Determinations Panel agreed with our approach.”
1. We’re taking swifter action where valuations are not submitted within statutory timescales. We have issued nine Warning Notices (WN) for late valuations since April 2017, leading to:
- two schemes complied and submitted valuations following receipt of WN
- five schemes complied after being issued with Improvement Notices (trustee) and Third Party Notices (employer) requiring valuations to be submitted by a specific date or face a fine
- one fine for a late valuation – £25,000 in the Rentokil Initial Pension Trustee Limited case
- one case is ongoing
2. The £25,000 fine was imposed by the Determinations Panel (DP) under section 10 of the Pensions Act 1995 for a failure to obtain an actuarial valuation under section 224 of the Pensions Act 2004. The maximum fine in the band range that the DP considered appropriate in this case is £25,000 for a professional trustee.
3. Trustees cannot use scheme funds to pay fines.
4. The DP is a committee of TPR which operates separately from other parts of the organisation and in its decision making is independent of the case teams and the investigation process. The Panel has a separately appointed membership and separate legal support. The Panel considers all the evidence before it and provides each party with reasonable opportunity to present their case.
5. 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); 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).