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

Government announces new measures to tackle pension scams

The DWP and HMT recently confirmed that they are planning new measures aimed at protecting private pension savers “from the threat of unscrupulous pension scammers”. The announcement comes as figures released show that almost £5 million was obtained by pension scammers in the first five months of 2017.

Today (21 August 2017), the Government has published its response to the consultation on pension scams which ran from December 2016 to February 2017, setting out the feedback it received and its intended next steps on the new measures.

The measures are set to include a ban on cold calling in relation to pensions, which will include emails and text messages, and which will be enforced by the ICO. Exemptions are likely to apply in “exceptional circumstances”, including in cases of existing relationships and express requests. No date is given for any draft legislation, with the response to consultation stating that the Government will bring it forward “when Parliamentary time allows”.

In addition, there will be:

  • “a tightening of HMRC rules to stop scammers opening fraudulent pension schemes”, including a requirement that new pension scheme registrations are generally made through active companies except in legitimate circumstances. This change will be legislated for in a Finance Bill in 2017
  • “tougher actions to help prevent the transfer of money from occupational pension schemes into fraudulent ones”

The Government states that it will now actively engage with industry, consumer groups and other stakeholders on how best to implement changes in this area. It will also tie in any changes with the forthcoming master trust authorisation regime.

FRC consults on non-financial reporting guidance

On 15 August 2017, the FRC published a consultation on amendments to its Guidance on the Strategic Report, encouraging businesses to consider the interests of stakeholders.

The proposals reflect the FRC’s desire to improve the effectiveness of section 172 of the Companies Act 2006. This requires directors to have regard to a number of matters including the long-term impact of any decisions, the interests of stakeholders, and non-financial matters in pursuing their duty to promote the long-term success of the company. The FRC is therefore encouraging companies to provide better information on how companies have fulfilled this duty to improve accountability to shareholders and other stakeholders.

The proposals reflect the enhanced disclosures that certain large companies are required to make in respect of the environment, employees, social matters, respect for human rights and anti-corruption and anti-bribery matters. The guidance also encourages all companies to disclose information on how boards have considered broader stakeholders when taking decisions to promote the long-term success of the company.

Comments and feedback on the FRC’s exposure draft are invited by 24 October 2017.

Information Commissioner blogs on GDPR and consent guidance

The ICO has launched a series of blogs designed to demystify the GDPR.

The latest post, Consent is not the ‘silver bullet’ for GDPR compliance, confirms the expected date for the publication of the ICO’s awaited final guidance on consent is currently December 2017. Draft guidance is already available, and “unlikely […to] change significantly in its final form”.

Please see our Alert for an overview of the issues schemes should bear in mind in relation to the GDPR, and the steps they should be considering taking now.

As the ICO notes, consent is only one way to comply with the GDPR. Trustees are more likely to rely on other grounds for processing non-sensitive personal data, such as the need to comply with legal obligations or the “legitimate interest” test (in that they have a legitimate interest in ensuring the effective running of the scheme).

As far as possible, consent should only be used as the basis for processing where sensitive personal data (known as “special categories of personal data” under the GDPR) is involved, or where the use of consent is the only option.

TPR publishes MNT blog

Janice Turner, Co-Chair of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees, has written a guest blog for TPR called Asking the difficult questions – being a member nominated trustee, which looks at the training needs of trustees.

Mrs N (PO-9935)

TPO has upheld a member’s complaint in a case of a transfer to an overseas scheme which resulted in a tax charge to the member.

Mrs N had complained that Friends Life did not carry out enough due diligence on the supposed qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (“QROPS”) to which she had requested a transfer.

For more details, please see our case report.