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

HMT publishes statement on EMIR clearing exemption in event of no-deal Brexit

On 21 February 2019, HMT published a statement confirming its intention that the clearing exemption under EMIR will apply to both UK and EEA pension scheme arrangements, should the UK leave the EU without a deal or an implementation period.

The statement also confirms that HMT intends to incorporate a temporary clearing exemption for both UK and EEA pension scheme arrangements into domestic law.

EMIR, meanwhile, is undergoing a significant refit, with a view to amending and simplifying the regulation. Following agreement between the Council of the EU and the EU Parliament on the “Refit Regulation” on 5 February 2019, further technical work is being carried out before the final texts are adopted.

DWP launches “Mid-life MOT” website

The DWP has launched a website aimed at providing a “package of support” to give people “access to free, professional and independent guidance to help … with pension planning, working options and staying healthy.” The concept of a mid-life MOT was promoted in 2017 in the Cridland Report, which suggested that it would be a “useful trigger point to encourage people to take stock, and make realistic choices about work, health and retirement”. The report recommended that the Government facilitate access an online service as soon as possible.

The website contains information on the state pension, and directs visitors to TPAS, MAS, and Pension Wise for further information. (These three bodies currently still operate from separate websites, following their incorporation into the Single Financial Guidance Body in January 2019.)

HMT publishes Directions and consultation on public service pensions valuations

HMT has published the Public Service Pensions (Valuations and Employer Cost Cap) (Amendment and Savings) Directions 2019.

The amending Directions put into effect changes announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 30 January 2019 in relation to pausing the employer cost cap mechanism, following the recent rulings in McCloud & Ors.

HMT has a statutory duty to consult the Government Actuary before making the Directions. It has published the statutory consultation completed during February 2019 alongside the Directions.

PSIG publishes scam activity survey results

On 18 February 2019, PSIG, the Pension Scams Industry Group, published the results of a study into the scale of scam activity affecting members and practitioners. This followed the publication of a second version of its Code of Practice on combating pension scams in 2018.

The study also looked to assess how practical it currently is to collect such information, and how challenging it might be for practitioners to provide the information requested, at both scheme and organisation level.

The findings of the survey have been shared with the bodies forming Project Bloom (the multi-agency campaign aimed at preventing pension scams).

TPR publishes DC winding up guidance

TPR has published guidance for trustees of DC occupational pension schemes, setting out the key steps that need to be taken in winding up a DC scheme.

The guidance is broken down into four main areas, covering the decision to wind up, preparing for and entering formal wind-up, securing members’ benefits and completing the process.