Pensions Weekly Update – 1 July 2020

July 2020

Here is our brief weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes, which you might have missed, with links for further information.

  • HMRC has issued Pension Schemes Newsletter 121. It has extended the deadlines for submitting and making payments for Accounting For Tax (AFT) returns for the quarters ended 31 March and 30 June and ending 30 September. If an administrator is unable to submit an AFT because resources are affected by coronavirus and subsequently incurs penalties, HMRC says that those penalties will be cancelled if the administrator emails and puts “AFT return — Pension Schemes Newsletter 121” in the subject line. HMRC has made temporary changes to other processes. These temporary measures are summarised in our weekly update of 6 May, Pension Schemes Newsletter 119 and Pension Schemes Newsletter 120. HMRC has extended those temporary measures to 31 October 2020.
  • The Chancellor has announced that he will deliver an economic update on 8 July. It remains to be seen what that will hold and whether pensions will be one of the Chancellor's targets.
  • Amendments have been tabled to the Pension Schemes Bill, which was debated again in the House of Lords on 30 June. While not all amendments will necessarily be incorporated into the final version of the Bill, a couple that we thought particularly interesting are:
    • An amendment that would restrict the reach of the offences of "avoidance of an employer debt" and "conduct risking accrued scheme benefits" only to scheme employers and those connected or associated with a scheme employer.
    • An amendment that would introduce new notifiable events where the employer undertakes a share buyback or declares a dividend above a certain level when a defined benefit pension scheme is in deficit.
  • The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill became the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act on 25 June, with most provisions coming into force on 26 June. In our weekly update of 24 June, we noted amendments had been proposed which, if approved, would introduce provisions that would:
    • Prevent certain bank debt gaining super priority status and ranking ahead of unsecured pension debt in the event that a sponsoring employer enters an insolvency process within 12 weeks of having exited a moratorium period.
    • Where a company is or has been an employer of a defined benefit scheme, require TPR and the PPF to be notified of the start and end of a moratorium period.
    • Where a restructuring plan is under consideration, require TPR and the PPF to receive the same notices as creditors.

      These amendments are all included in the final form of the Act. Our blogs contain more information on how the new moratorium provisions and restructuring process could affect pension schemes.

If you would like specific advice on any of these issues, or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.

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