Here is our weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes that you might have missed, with links for further information.
The Pensions Minister, Laura Trott, announced in a ministerial statement that the Pensions Dashboards Programme will be “reset”, as additional time is needed to prepare for the introduction of pensions dashboards. The statement explains that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will play a full role in the reset, and that the new chair of the Programme Board will develop a new plan for delivery. The headline news is that the connection deadlines currently set out in regulations will be pushed back – amending legislation will be required and will be introduced “at the earliest opportunity”.
The Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) (No. 2) Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on 3 March 2023. The bill is a private member's bill that would introduce powers for the DWP to make regulations to (1) lower the age for automatic pensions enrolment from the current age of 22 and (2) lower or reduce the lower earnings limit for "qualifying earnings". A similar private member's bill had been presented to Parliament last year, but did not make its way through all of the necessary stages before Parliament broke for recess. While the government has confirmed that it will support the bill, it is worth noting the government's statement that there will not be any immediate change to the current automatic enrolment criteria. Also worth noting is the fact that there is no proposal to lower or remove the £10,000 earnings trigger.
In July 2022, the government announced that a new task force to support pension scheme engagement with social factors in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing would be established. It has been widely reported in the pensions press that the DWP has now launched a Taskforce on Social Factors, the aim of which is to assist pension trustees in identifying data and metrics when taking account of social factors in the ESG sphere.
The weather may be chilly this week, but our latest Hot Topics in Pensions is a reminder that spring is around the corner. We embrace a theme of outdoor hobbies in our publication while cantering through the latest pensions topics for your trustee or corporate agenda.
Next week, we will publish our weekly update on Thursday that will include any key pensions items making an appearance in the chancellor's budget on 15 March 2023.
If you would like specific advice on any of these issues or on anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.