Here is our weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes, which you might have missed, with links for further information.
The government has confirmed that the Online Safety Bill will be amended to place a duty on the largest and most popular social media platforms and search engines to prevent paid-for fraudulent advertisements appearing on their services. This should be a helpful development in the battle to protect pension savers against scam activity.
The Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Bill has now received Royal Assent, becoming the Public Service Pensions and Judicial Offices Act 2022. It includes a retrospective provision to rectify unlawful discrimination in public sector pension schemes. It also includes a more controversial provision amending the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, to enable the Secretary of State to publish guidance to authorities administering public sector pension schemes that includes "guidance or directions on investment decisions which it is not proper for the scheme manager to make in light of UK foreign and defence policy". This follows on from a 2020 Supreme Court decision that guidance issued by the Secretary of State to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), which provided that it must not use investment policies to pursue boycotts, etc., was unlawful because it went beyond the scope of what the Secretary of State was permitted to do by primary legislation.
In a recent speech at the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association's ESG Conference 2022, Thérèse Coffey, Work and Pensions Minister, said that the government would bring regulations before Parliament requiring trustees of larger schemes to report on how their investments align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is intended that the requirements would come into force from 1 October 2022. This follows a consultation that closed on 6 January 2022. The Minister also said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would produce guidance on the new Paris alignment metric and also on the role of stewardship. "We are committed to continuing to work with pension schemes and their trustees to ensure the risks from climate change are properly managed, to protect people’s pension savings, to maximise investment opportunities to fuel our transition to our greener economy, to turn promises on climate change into action, and to fully harness the power of pensions to deliver for people and the planet".
If you would like specific advice on any of these issues, or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.