Pensions Weekly Update – 8 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.

  • From 1 July, it became possible for furloughed employees to return to work part time – a process known as flexible furloughing. Employers of flexibly furloughed employees are only able to make a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claim in respect of the usual hours not worked by those individuals. Further steps will be taken to phase out the CJRS over the coming months. For an overview of the reductions to the amount of grant that can be claimed see this policy paper published by HMRC.
  • The Pensions Regulator (TPR) issued its 2020-21 Corporate Plan (the Plan) after a delay to allow a rethink of its priorities due to the impact of COVID-19. The Plan restates TPR’s position as a tough but flexible regulator. Although the Plan does not contain any surprises, it is useful to have TPR’s confirmation of the workstreams that will progress this year. These include:
    • A focus on badly run defined contribution schemes that may benefit from consolidation
    • Working with the industry to improve diversity and inclusion on trustee boards
    • Improving trustee levels of knowledge, understanding and governance standards in terms of ESG
    • Consolidating the codes of practice into a single code
    • Updating the trustee knowledge and understanding code of practice
    • Continuing work on the defined benefit funding code, which is still expected to come into force in late 2021
    • Issuing a corporate strategy discussion paper which will set out a “clear vision” for what TPR wants to achieve over the next 15 years. (That is a long time in pensions!)
  • TPR has updated its DC Scheme Management and Investment COVID-19 guidance to cover considerations for trustees when a fund is reopened following temporary closure.
  • In last week’s update we flagged that the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 had completed its progress through parliament and received Royal Assent. For a thought provoking summary of key amendments incorporated into the final version of the Act (and the implications for pension schemes) see our recently published blog by Philip Sutton: “The Geometry and Trigonometry of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act – What Is the Final Pensions Angle?

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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