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DB and mixed benefit (hybrid) scheme return

Additional information and resources to help you prepare for and complete a scheme return for defined benefit (DB) schemes and those offering mixed benefits (hybrid).

See scheme return for further information about completing the scheme return, including the most common queries.

Important

Scheme return notices will be issued from the end of January 2022.

Complete and submit your scheme return by 31 March 2022.

This year’s scheme return: what’s changed

There are some new questions for DB-only and hybrid schemes this year and the scheme return will also be issued in two parts.

  • Part 1 contains the new questions and will be completed in a separate online form.
  • Part 2 contains the rest of the questions and will be completed in Exchange as usual.

Additionally, unfortunately it has not been possible to update Exchange with the latest guidance and assumptions versions (G9 and A10 respectively) that should be used for recent s179 valuations. Please see below for further guidance on this issue.

New questions this year

The new questions for DB-only and hybrid schemes will ask you to provide:

  • the website addresses where the scheme’s statement of investment principles (SIP) and implementation statement have been published

This question only applies to trustees of schemes with more than 100 members. The SIP and implementation statement must be published on a publicly available website, free of charge. The content of an implementation statement is different for DB and hybrid schemes: please see the guidance alongside the questions or in the example scheme return.

  • the website address where the scheme's climate change report has been published

This question only applies to trustees of schemes with ‘relevant assets’ of £5 billion or more at the end of their first scheme year ending on or after 1 March 2020, who need to comply with new climate change governance and reporting requirements from 1 October 2021 (or, if later, from the date they obtain audited accounts in relation to that scheme year-end date). These regulations require schemes to publish a climate change report (also known as a ‘TFCD report’) on a publicly available website, free of charge.

  • the trustee assessment of the employer covenant grading (if available)

If the scheme’s trustees have assessed the employer covenant, a grade between 1 and 4 and an assessment date is required. Schemes that have not assessed the covenant grading can select ‘not assessed’.

There are also some new questions that only apply to hybrid schemes, which will ask you to provide:

  • information about the more detailed value for members (VFM) assessment 

This question only applies to trustees of schemes who are legally required to carry out a more detailed value for members (VFM) assessment (involving comparison with other schemes). If these requirements apply to you, we will ask you to enter information about the detailed assessment and its outcome, if it has been carried out.

  • the website address where extracts from the chair’s statement have been published

This question applies to trustees of schemes providing money purchase (DC) benefits who are legally required to prepare a chair’s statement containing certain information within seven months of the end of the scheme year.

Some of the information from this statement must be published on a publicly available website, free of charge.

You can view all the new questions and detailed guidance at the start of the example scheme return.

Adding recently completed section 179 (s179) valuations in Exchange

As it has not been possible to update Exchange with the latest s179 valuation guidance and assumptions versions (G9 and A10 respectively), if the latest s179 valuation for the scheme has an effective date on or after 1 May 2021, you should:

  • add the details of the valuation in Exchange as normal (including the correct effective date); and
  • select guidance version G8 and assumptions version A9 – even though these may not be correct

This will enable you to add the s179 valuation and submit the scheme return.

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is aware of the situation and plans to contact affected schemes to verify which versions of the guidance and assumptions have been used. This will enable them to accurately calculate levy invoices for 2022/23.

If you have any concerns about the calculation of the PPF levy for 2022/23, please contact the PPF levy customer support team.

Prepare for your scheme return

Before taking any other action, please log into Exchange and make sure your contact details are up-to-date.

You have to submit a scheme return for all DB and hybrid schemes you’re responsible for. 

Take some time to familiarise yourself with the example DB and hybrid scheme returns. They include all the questions you will be asked, including the new questions, so you can gather the information you’ll need to complete them.

If you have any queries about the scheme return, contact us.

Receiving the scheme return notice

We will send your scheme return notice in two parts from the end of January 2022.

Part 1

The first part will be emailed to you and include a link to the new questions. This is a secure link and unique to the recipient of the email. No one else will be able to access the link unless you share it with them.

This email will only be sent from paperlessSRN@thepensionsregulator.gov.uk. Double check the email comes from this address before clicking the link.

If you haven’t received the first part of your scheme return notice by 8 February 2022, please check your spam filters and speak to your IT team to request that paperlessSRN@thepensionsregulator.gov.uk is whitelisted. If you still haven’t received it, contact us.

Part 2

The second part will again be sent by email and look the same as last year’s scheme return notice. It will contain a link to the rest of the questions to be completed in Exchange as normal.

Once you receive the new questions and your notice, you’ll have until 31 March 2022 to complete and submit it to us.

Complete your scheme return

Answer the new questions by clicking the link to the online form in the first part of the scheme return notice. The new questions will have guidance alongside them. You can also look at this guidance in the example DB and hybrid scheme returns. Further information on using the online form is below.

Complete the rest of your scheme return as normal in Exchange. The link to Exchange will be provided in the second part of the scheme return notice. Select the help icon in Exchange for further guidance on any particular scheme return question. 

You can view all the help text for Exchange scheme return questions without having to log in to Exchange. Some of the help text headings may appear more than once due to the way Exchange manages information. See further information on how to use Exchange including how to associate to a registered scheme.

Using the online form to answer the new questions

The form is secure and similar in format to a survey. It contains multiple choice questions as well as text boxes where you can enter information. Questions marked with a * are mandatory.

A screen shot showing the part 1 scheme return online form. The main features of the form are highlighted.

The form is split into pages and you can see your progress in the bottom right corner. Your responses will be saved, but only while the form is open in a browser window. If you close the form before you select ‘Submit’, you’ll have to start again.

Sharing the online form for review and approval

We understand you may need to share responses to the new questions for approval before submitting. You can create a PDF of the form (that shows the answers given) by using your browser’s print option and then selecting ‘save as PDF’. This can then be shared for review.

Submitting the online form

Once you have answered the new questions, you will need to confirm who is authorised to submit this part of the scheme return. The usual scheme return contact details will be displayed, but if another person is submitting the form then their details can be entered.

A screen shot of the declare and submit section of the part 1 scheme return form. The submit button at the bottom of the form is highlighted.

Once you have completed this section, click ‘Submit’ to submit part 1 of your scheme return. You will then see a confirmation screen that you can print or save as a PDF for your records.

If you submit the form by mistake or need to make changes at a later point, then click the link in the scheme return notice email again. You will then see a blank form where you can enter and submit all the information again. The latest submitted information will be saved in our records.

Your legal responsibility

As the trustee or manager of a registrable scheme, you must provide us with a scheme return, unless the scheme has only one member, has wound up or another exemption applies.

If a scheme return hasn’t been completed and submitted by the deadline stated in the scheme return notice, this will be a breach of the Pensions Act 2004 and you risk being fined. Your scheme’s PPF levy calculations may also be impacted by late submissions.