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

CJRS extended until end of March 2021

Following the announcement of a new national lockdown commencing on 5 November, HMT extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS” or “Furlough” scheme) twice in the same week. The launch of the planned Job Support Scheme (see 7 Days) has been postponed.

The first announcement saw the CJRS extended beyond its original end date (of 31 October) to 2 December 2020 (see 7 Days) in line with the new period of lockdown, while the second extended it until 31 March 2021, subject to a review in January 2021.

At the time of writing, under this extended phase of the scheme, employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Employers will however be asked to cover their NICs and employer pension contributions.

Further guidance will be published on 10 November 2020, and employers will be able to make claims from 8am on 11 November 2020.

EDPS publishes Strategy on Schrems II for EU institutions

The European Data Protection Supervisor (“EDPS”) has issued a Strategy following the ECJ’s decision in (in Schrems II) which invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield and introduced additional considerations for the use of standard contractual clauses.

The Strategy aims to ensure and monitor compliance with the decision by EU institutions, and addresses short and medium-term actions for compliance with international transfers requirements.

The Strategy may be of wider interest to other organisations looking at how to comply with the ruling. The EDPS is also working with the European Data Protection Board and other supervisory authorities to develop further guidance and recommendations for controllers and processors, then aims to establish long term compliance priorities for 2021. For new processing operations, it currently strongly encourages institutions to avoid processing activities involving transfers to the US.

Progress of the Pension Schemes Bill

The Pension Schemes Bill has progressed through the House of Commons Committee Stage, with the Public Bill Committee (“the Committee”) scrutinising the Bill line by line. The Committee sat on 3 November and concluded its consideration of the Bill on 5 November.

The Committee rejected the House of Lords’ amendment which would have required open DB schemes (schemes expected to remain open to new members either indefinitely or for a significant period of time) to be regulated differently for scheme funding purposes. Proposed amendments aimed at clarifying the extension of TPR’s powers were not progressed.

In addition, the Government considered points raised by the WPC in relation to transfer “red flags” and on strengthening member guidance requirements.

The Bill will now proceed to the Report Stage, scheduled for 16 November 2020.

Responsible Investment Bill presented to MPs

On 5 November 2020, ShareAction (a charity which lobbies for responsible investment) proposed new legislation to MPs at an event held in collaboration with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sustainable Finance.

The proposed Responsible Investment Bill is designed to strengthen the legal duties of fiduciary investors (primarily pension trustees and their asset managers) to act in the best interests of their beneficiaries, by stipulating in law that “best interests” include environmental and social considerations. The Bill also includes provisions to improve transparency and accountability of pension trustees to their beneficiaries, among other things.

ShareAction’s intention is to lobby for the Bill to be introduced before the end of the current parliament.

TPR updates guidance on pension scams

On 4 November 2020, TPR updated its guidance on pension scams. Among other things, the updated guidance:

  • warns savers that scammers’ tactics have evolved since the introduction of the cold calling ban (see 7 Days) in 2019 (eg by using social media)
  • now includes a section on how to report scams and suspected scams, and
  • advises that TPAS can support people who want to rebuild their pension savings.

TPR updates DC and automatic enrolment COVID-19 guidance

TPR has updated DC Pension Contributions: COVID-19 Technical Guidance for Large Employers. The updated guidance notes the extension of the CJRS, and that the proposed Job Support Scheme will no longer come into effect on 1 November 2020. The Automatic Enrolment and DC Pension Contributions: COVID-19 Guidance for Employers has been updated along the same lines.