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

General election result

The Conservative Government has been re-elected following the general election on 12 December 2019. The effect of the result on pension policy remains to be seen, but some of the main promises relating to pensions in the Conservative manifesto were to:

  • reintroduce the Pension Schemes Bill (see our Alert)
  • retain the “triple lock” guarantee on state pension increases and
  • conduct an urgent review of the tapered annual allowance in relation to doctors’ pensions within the first 30 days.

The Queen’s speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda for the parliamentary year, will be delivered on 19 December 2019.

Equitable Life transfer proposal approved

Equitable Life has announced that final approval has been received for its proposal to transfer its business to Utmost Life and Pensions (formerly Reliance Life), following a High Court hearing on 22 and 25 November 2019. Equitable Life confirmed that the proposed changes will be put into effect on 1 January 2020.

FCA Quarterly Consultation

The FCA has published its most recent quarterly consultation, which includes proposed changes to the FCA Handbook related to pensions guidance. These changes are intended to align the Handbook with the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (FGCA) (see 7 days). The FGCA introduced the Single Financial Guidance Body (now the Money Advice and Pensions Service (MAPS)) and repealed sections of FSMA which relate to pensions guidance, with effect from 1 January 2019. It also repealed sections of FSMA relating to the pensions guidance levy.

The consultation states that the FCA intends to consult on rule changes that arise from the change to MAPS and, in particular, the signposting to it, early next year.

FCA Policy Statement on investment platform transfers

The FCA has released a Policy Statement following its consultation on rule changes that aim to make it easier for consumers to transfer their assets from one investment platform to another. The Statement sets out the FCA’s final policy position, taking into account the feedback received. It also contains the final rules which implement the policy decisions and come into force on 31 July 2020, with the aim of improving competition between platforms.

PPF Levy Determination 2020/21

The PPF’s rules and guidance for the 2020/21 levy year were published on 16 December 2019, following consultation in September (see 7 days). These set out how the PPF will calculate the levy that will be invoiced in Autumn 2020.

The total levy the PPF expects to collect is confirmed at £620 million, in line with the estimate included in the consultation.

On the case of Bauer (see 7 days), which relates to the level of protection member states must provide for employee pensions in the event of employer insolvency and could have a financial impact on the PPF, the Policy Statement released with the rules and guidance comments “we are not delaying publication to wait for the judgment. Even if there is an impact which makes a case for increasing the levy, there is very limited scope to do so for 2020/21 – as the Levy Estimate is only slightly below the maximum the Pensions Act allows us to set relative to the previous year’s estimate”. Judgment on the Bauer case is expected imminently.

For further detail, please see our forthcoming Alert.