The Regulator has responded to its September 2021 consultation on three draft policies relevant to how it will exercise its new anti-avoidance powers, which are intended to help protect defined benefit savings. The most recent policies follow on from the policy on the investigation and prosecution of the new criminal offences, which was published in September 2021 and provide further guidance on three specific areas: overlapping powers, the new GBP 1million civil penalty and information gathering. Separately, the Regulator has also issued a new consultation on two policies consolidating and updating certain existing policies on enforcement and prosecution.
Following the passing of the Pension Schemes Act 2021 into law, further details outlining how the tougher powers for the Regulator will operate have been published. They include a consultation by the Regulator on a draft policy setting out how it will approach the investigation and prosecution of the new criminal offences (avoiding an employer debt and risking DB benefits). Separately, the Department for Work and Pensions has launched a consultation on two sets of regulations setting out proposals about how the new employer resources test and the Regulator’s information gathering powers will operate. The consultations close on 22 April and 29 April respectively.
The Pension Schemes Bill (“Bill”) has completed all its parliamentary stages and its provisions are now final. A date for royal assent (the point at which it will become law) is still awaited.
The Bill will make important changes to the UK pensions landscape in a number of areas and will be relevant to sponsoring employers and trustees of both defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) schemes. Certain aspects of the Bill will have wider implications outside the day-to-day operation of pension schemes, such as the increased powers that will be given to the UK Pensions Regulator (“Regulator”), which include the introduction of new criminal penalties.
There has been a swathe of new legislation and regulatory developments impacting defined benefit pension schemes in the UK over the last few years. And with further changes in the pipeline, employers need to ensure that their pension scheme’s compliance is factored into their wider compliance and financial strategy. Now…