7 days

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

Unfunded Public Service Defined Benefits Schemes (Transfers) Regulations 2015 published

The Unfunded Public Service Defined Benefits Schemes (Transfers) Regulations 2015 were laid before Parliament on 17 August 2015. They aim to prevent transfers from unfunded public service DB schemes to QROPS which could provide flexible benefits as a result of the transfer.

The Government, when introducing the 2015 benefit flexibilities, decided to ban transfers from such unfunded DB schemes to DC arrangements.

The Pension Schemes Act 2015 restricted these transfers, but the restriction did not apply if the scheme to which the transfer was to be made satisfied certain requirements prescribed in regulations. These regulations ensure that the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996 no longer apply for the purposes of those provisions, closing a potential loophole.

The regulations will come into force on 7 September 2015, but will not have effect in relation to applications for transfers made before that date.

Firefighters’ Pension Fund income and expenditure data published

On 19 August 2015 the DCLG published a statistical release in relation to the Firefighters’ Pension Fund (the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme and the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme) “Income and Expenditure, 2013-14 & 2014-15”.

The release provides income and expenditure information from firefighters’ pension fund forms submitted by all 46 fire authorities in England. The statistics show that Fund expenditure increased 5% in 2014-15, while the Fund’s income had no year-on-year percentage change.

Updated FCA Handbook and PRA Rulebook websites to launch on 29 August 2015

The FCA has updated its website to note that the new FCA Handbook and PRA Rulebook websites will launch on 29 August 2015. From this date, the current website (fshandbook.info) will no longer be available, and will redirect people to the new Handbook and Rulebook websites. The FCA and PRA homepages will remain available as normal.

House of Commons Library publishes briefing papers

The House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on 18 August 2015 which looks at why some survivors of public service pension scheme members lose their benefits if they remarry or cohabit, and examines changes within the different public sector schemes.

The House of Commons Library also published a briefing paper on 19 August 2015 providing an overview of the MPs’ Pension Scheme, recent reforms (including the new CARE section) to the Scheme introduced from May 2015, plus current proposals for reform.

Finally, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on 20 August 2015 which looks at the benefit flexibilities introduced in April 2015. It covers, amongst other things, the transfer of safeguarded benefits, and future proposals relating to the secondary annuity market.

TPR reminds trustees to take action on new DC standards

TPR launched a campaign on 20 August 2015 to remind trustees of occupational schemes which offer DC benefits of the governance standards and charge controls which came into force on 6 April 2015.

These include:

  • meeting the new governance standards and explaining how the trustees have done so in the chair’s annual statement
  • having an appointed chair who signs the annual statement
  • complying with the charge cap on qualifying schemes used for automatic enrolment.

The campaign aims to raise awareness and draw attention to TPR’s existing materials on DC governance, including the DC code and TPR’s essential guide to communicating with members about pension flexibilities. Amongst the products to help trustees is a Q&A on the new DC duties.

TPR will be using scheme returns to monitor compliance.  Returns for DC schemes now contain new questions relating to the April 2015 changes, and TPR has produced a checklist to help trustees complete the return.

TPR plans to issue further material and reminders for trustees over the coming months, focusing on specific topics associated with the new DC standards. The campaign is due to run until March 2016, with a break to allow for consultation during November/December on the revised DC code, which is being updated to incorporate the new requirements.