Pensions Weekly Update – 9 September 2020

September 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.

  • The Pensions Dashboards Programme has reported that it received more than 60 responses to its call for input in relation to the data standards for the initial pensions dashboards. It aims to publish a summary of the responses in the autumn and an initial version of data standards for pensions dashboards, for user testing, by the end of the year. Richard Smith, Head of Industry Liaison on the Pensions Dashboards Programme, notes that one of the key challenges will be matching individuals to their pension entitlements. He reports that in a significant proportion of cases, pension providers and trustees think they will be able to successfully match scheme pensions against an individual’s national insurance number and date of birth plus one other item, such as a name. However, where there are any discrepancies, providers and trustees will be reluctant to provide pension information in case they breach data protection rules. The overall tenor, however, is positive – indications from the pensions industry are that, while there may be some challenges, establishing dashboards will be worthwhile.
  • In response to a question from Stephen Timms, John Glen (Economic Secretary to the Treasury) confirmed that the minimum pension age for taking private pensions without incurring a tax penalty for early payment will increase from age 55 to 57 from 2028. This proposal was first announced in 2014 by the government. John Glen confirms that it will be “legislated for in due course”. Once relevant legislation is in place, trustees will need to check whether amendments are required to their scheme rules. Scheme booklets and retirement illustrations that refer to age 55 as the minimum pension age will also need to be updated and members should be notified well in advance of the change. Trustees of schemes that issue member newsletters may wish to include information on this proposal in their newsletter.
  • Next week, coincident with Pensions Awareness Day 2020, we will share our #PensionsTensions publications progress report. This will contain an update on The Member Experience, The Trustee Experience, The Employer Experience and The Investment Experience, and our views on how pressures for the pensions industry are developing.
  • Building on the positive response to our #PensionsTensions series of publications, we ran a webinar on 27 August, #PensionsTensions – Exploring the Stresses and Strains on UK Pension Saving Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, examining key trends that we have observed, as well as opportunities for pension scheme trustees and sponsoring employers to plan ahead for the challenges to come. A recording of the webinar is now available, as well as presentation materials.
  • Finally, we invite our readers to embrace the 2020 pensions syllabus set out in our annual “back to school” themed publication. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected each pension scheme in unique ways – trustees have had to respond to challenges caused by disruptions to service and economic volatility, in addition to carrying out scheduled actions identified in their business plans. Our action-focused publication draws together some key developments from the last few months, and we look ahead to what to expect in the remainder of the year.

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

Access our global COVID-19 Coronavirus Resource Hub for guidance on key legal and risk issues for businesses.

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