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Winding up your DC scheme

If you need to wind up the defined contribution (DC) scheme that you run, you must do so efficiently and properly.

A scheme wind up is where the scheme ceases to exist, after the scheme assets have been used to secure member benefits and any remaining amount has been either distributed to members or returned to the employer.

Key points

  • Notify us that you are winding up your DC scheme.
  • Notify all members and beneficiaries that the scheme is winding up.
  • Complete the wind up efficiently and within two years of starting the process.
  • Submit a report if your scheme has not fully wound up two years after wind up was triggered.

Deciding whether to wind up your scheme

You and/or the employer may decide that you should wind up the scheme for a number of reasons. For example, you may decide that your scheme can't meet the standards set out in the code of practice and it would be in the best interests of the members to wind up the scheme.

You should also be aware of when compulsory winding up of the scheme can be triggered, eg the scheme rules may require the scheme to be wound up if no participating employer remains.

Telling us

If you decide to wind up your scheme, you must notify us when winding up has been triggered and again when the scheme has been formally wound up. You can notify us by updating your scheme’s status using Exchange.

If the scheme has not fully wound up two years after wind up was triggered, you must submit a report. You can submit the report using Exchange.

Key wind-up activities

The key activities you should complete when winding up your DC scheme are:

  • notify all members and beneficiaries that the scheme is winding up, within one month of formally starting the wind up
  • receive or recover all member and employer contributions due from the employer
  • establish that all pensioner members with annuity policies have them set up in their own name providing the correct scheme benefits
  • account for and reconcile all assets/cash held in trustee bank accounts and investment manager/provider accounts
  • establish that all other beneficiaries have been identified, fund values determined, secured and statements issued
  • provide appropriate options to members

Take advice where it’s appropriate to do so.


Once wind up is triggered, the process should be completed efficiently. We would expect that in most cases the key activities can be completed well within two years.

You should create a project plan to help you to manage the process efficiently and within two years.

To avoid unreasonable delays you should adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach. However, you still need to work in line with the provisions of the trust deed and rules, your fiduciary duties and any legal requirements.