7 days

7 Days is a weekly round up of developments in pensions, normally published on Monday afternoons. We collate this information from key industry sources, such as the DWP, HMRC and TPR.

In this 7 Days

Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 receives Royal Assent

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill received Royal Assent on 10 May 2018, becoming the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018.

Amongst other things, the Act provides:

  • for the establishment of the new Single Financial Guidance Body
  • for protection against “unsolicited direct marketing relating to pensions” (cold calling)
  • that trustees and providers must ensure individuals accessing their pension funds are referred to, and asked whether they have received, appropriate guidance.

The final version of the Act contained amendments tabled following recommendations from the Work and Pensions Committee, including that regulations to make provision for the ban on cold calling should be put in place by June 2018, or the delay explained in a statement to Parliament.

The Work and Pensions Committee has welcomed the Act, but continued to raise questions about its reach.

The Occupational Pension Schemes (Master Trusts) Regulations 2018

The revised draft Occupational Pension Schemes (Master Trusts) Regulations 2018 have been laid before Parliament, following consultation. Various technical changes have been made following feedback to the consultation.

The regulations will implement the new authorisation and supervisory regime for master trust schemes under the provisions of the Pension Schemes Act 2017. Amongst other things, the regulations set out:

  • the conditions that must be met by master trusts seeking authorisation, and the matters TPR must take into account in its assessments of schemes
  • the authorisation fees payable by new and existing master trusts
  • the scope of exemptions from the regime
  • information and notification requirements.

The regulations are due to come into force generally on 1 October 2018.

Consultation on NDA pension reform published

On 10 May 2018, BEIS published a consultation seeking views on how the Government propose to enable the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (“NDA”) to implement pension reform for two final salary pension schemes within its group, in light of the Government’s commitment to switch to CARE provision across public service pension schemes.

The consultation closes on 5 July 2018.

CMA publishes working paper on gains from engagement

On 10 May 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a further working paper as part of its investigation into investment consultancy.

The paper addresses “gains from engagement”, analysing whether “pension schemes which are more engaged with the market receive better outcomes (in terms of price) than those who are less engaged”. It reports that its emerging findings are that engaged schemes pay significantly less, and disengaged schemes significantly more, in relation to fiduciary management and investment consultancy: “this is indicative that the market is not working well for disengaged schemes, or schemes facing barriers to engagement.”

The CMA invites views on its analysis and emerging thinking in its working papers by 24 May 2018. The inquiry’s provisional decision report is expected in July 2018.

ICO publishes final version of consent guidance

On 9 May 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published the final version of its guidance relating to consent. The guidance sits alongside the ICO’s Guide to the GDPR and provides “more detailed, practical guidance” on consent and when it can be relied on as a lawful basis for processing personal data.

The GDPR imposes stringent conditions for obtaining valid consent and, for this reason, the ICO suggests using consent as the ground for processing personal data only where necessary.

TPR publishes corporate plan for 2018-21

TPR has published its corporate plan for 2018-21. The plan outlines how TPR will focus on key areas of activity, including:

  • driving up standards of trusteeship and stewardship across all pension schemes
  • authorising master trust schemes
  • ensuring employers meet their automatic enrolment duties
  • ensuring DB schemes are effectively regulated
  • working with government to implement the proposals set out in the White Paper on the future of DB schemes.

TPR Chairman Mark Boyle said “The pensions landscape has been changing significantly. We are meeting this challenge by embedding a new regulatory culture and reinforcing our regulatory teams on the frontline. In the coming year, you can expect to see us being more vocal about our expectations of those we regulate and intervening quickly and decisively through our wide-ranging regulatory activity and enforcement powers.”

To do so, TPR has announced that it will increase its spending by over £4.3 million (a 5.2% increase over 2017/18), and its headcount by 12%.