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.
The latest court judgment in relation to the increase in state pension age for women born on or after 6 April 1950 has been handed down by the Court of Appeal. Julie Delve and Karen Glynn, who made the appeal, argued that the increase in state pension age gave rise to age discrimination because women born in the 1950s were not treated equally with men during their working lives and they, therefore, arrive at their early 60s in a poorer financial position than men of that age, making it harder for many of them to manage without a state pension. They also argued that they had not been notified of the change sufficiently far in advance. The court upheld the decision of the High Court, and ruled that the increase in state pension age was not age discriminatory and that adequate notice had been provided.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Order dated 10 June 2019 brought in new requirements for pension trustees relating to tendering for fiduciary management services and setting strategic objectives for investment consultants. The CMA Order also imposed reporting obligations, in the form of a compliance statement, on pension trustees. When the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) issued for consultation draft regulations implementing the CMA Order, the regulations provided that trustees should fulfil their reporting obligations on Exchange through the pension scheme return. However, the DWP has now confirmed that “the government response to this consultation and final regulations will not be published until after the first quarter of 2021 at the earliest”. This means that pension trustees will need to make their compliance statement direct to the CMA by 7 January 2021. Trustees should note this and take any necessary action by this deadline, taking advice where appropriate.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has reinstated some of its requirements that were relaxed at the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These are explained in a statement accompanying the updated guidance. From 1 January 2021, TPR asks trustees and pension providers to report the late payment of money purchase contributions no later than 90 days after the due date, instead of 150 days. However, this does not become mandatory until 1 April 2021 (TPR says that this is to provide for adjustments to systems and processes). From 1 October 2020, TPR will revert to reviewing chairs’ statements and will enforce requirements for schemes to submit audited accounts and investment statement reviews.
We are frequently asked about the progress of the pension schemes bill. This has been through the House of Lords and is now with the House of Commons for review. A date has not yet been scheduled for its second reading in the House of Commons, although recent press reports indicate that Guy Opperman, the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, is optimistic that the pension schemes bill will be law by the end of this calendar year.
The Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into pensions freedoms five years on held its first hearing on 16 September. The committee started by hearing evidence in relation to pension scams and heard from Margaret Snowdon, Chair of the Pension Scams Industry Group, Andy Agathangelou, Founder of the Transparency Task Force, Richard Piggin, Head of External Affairs and Campaigns at Which, and Tim Fassam, Director of Government Relations & Policy at the Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association.
If you would like specific advice on any of these issues, or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.