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
- Shareholder Rights Directive II fact sheet
- Countdown Bulletin 49 – October 2019
- TPO publishes Corporate Plan 2019-2022
- TPR announces “crackdown” on poor record-keeping by schemes
- R (on the application of Julie Delve and Karen Glynn) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
- Mrs H (PO-21489) (Failure to carry out proper due diligence on a transfer)
On 4 October 2019, the DWP issued a revised version of its fact sheet on the Shareholder Rights Directive II. It includes information for trustees on how and when trustees need to make changes to their SIPs. Please see our latest Finance and investment briefing for further information.
On 4 October 2019, HMRC issued Countdown Bulletin 49, aimed at providing clarity about HMRC’s role now that the Scheme Reconciliation Service (“SRS”) has ended. It includes information and updates on:
- final SRS outputs
- Scheme Contracted-Out Numbers
- incorrect GMPs
- Contribution Equivalent Premiums
- raising queries with HMRC.
On 2 October 2019, TPO published its Corporate Plan which outlines its strategic aims over the next three years and its key deliverables for 2019/20.
In the press release, TPO explains that the focus of this year’s plan “is on ensuring every dispute can be resolved at the earliest point, with no loss of quality”. It intends to achieve this through:
- phase 2 of its Digitalisation Programme which includes a major overhaul of its website and the introduction of an online portal where customers will be able to complete online forms and upload documents.
- a casework reorganisation that will incorporate an enhanced triage process and tracking of cases that aim to improve the customer’s journey by making it shorter and more transparent.
- expanding its quality framework so that high quality and consistent outputs are guaranteed.
The Corporate Plan also includes recommendations from its recent Tailored Review (see 7 days).
On 2 October 2019, TPR issued a press release to announce that “trustees of hundreds of pension schemes are to be ordered to urgently review the data they hold as part of a crackdown on poor record-keeping”.
TPR is asking the trustee boards of 400 schemes to conduct a data review within six months. These schemes are believed to have failed to review their data in the last three years.
The trustees will be required to report to TPR what proportion of their members they hold accurate common and scheme-specific data for (see TPR’s Record-keeping guidance). Those that fail to do so may face action, including improvement notices relating to their inadequate internal controls. Failure to comply with the notice carries a fine of up to £5,000 for an individual or up to £50,000 in any other case.
A total of 1,200 schemes are also being contacted to remind them to carry out data reviews of both common and scheme-specific data every year. Trustees and scheme managers are responsible for ensuring these reviews are completed.
The move comes as TPR tightens its regulatory grip to drive up standards of governance and administration with the aim of delivering better outcomes for pension savers. In addition to record-keeping, communications will be sent to more than 1,000 schemes this year on issues such as dividend payments to shareholders and the length of recovery plans.
An application for judicial review of the mechanisms chosen to implement the equalisation of state pension age between men and women has failed.
While the Court was “saddened by the stories contained in the Claimants’ evidence”, it found no basis for concluding that the policy choices reflected in the legislation were not open to government, and noted that in any event they were approved by Parliament.
TPO has found that Hampshire County Council failed to carry out proper due diligence before it transferred a member’s benefits from the LGPS Hampshire Pension Fund to the Focusplay Retirement Benefits Scheme, and ordered it to reinstate her benefits.
Click here for our full summary.