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.
Laura Trott is no longer the pensions minister. In the cabinet reshuffle of 13 November 2023, she was appointed chief secretary to the treasury. Laura Trott has overseen a number of important developments in her year-long period of office. We wish her well and we hope to hear confirmation of the new pensions minister soon.
Oliver Morley, CEO at the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), Sara Protheroe, chief customer officer at the PPF, and Barry Kenneth, chief investment officer at the PPF, gave oral evidence to the work and pensions committee in relation to its inquiry into defined benefit (DB) pension schemes. The written evidence submitted by the PPF covers various topics, including the PPF’s views on DB funding, DB endgame and the new funding code, consolidation, the PPF levy, the level of PPF compensation and whether it should be amended to include improved indexation, and the impact of a recent court decision on compensation payable by the fraud compensation fund.
In our weekly update of 11 October 2023, we noted that the Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) had published a disclosure framework to assist in the production of high quality standardised transition plans to net zero and that the government had said that it would consult by the end of 2023 on requiring the largest companies to publish their transition plans, if they have them. The TPT has now launched sector-specific guidance on climate change transition planning, for consultation. Sectors include asset owners and asset managers. Consultation closes on 29 December 2023.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published an update in connection with its review of the UK corporate governance code. The FRC notes that the government’s plan for primary legislation to modernise the regulation of audit, corporate reporting and governance has not been prioritised for the next parliamentary session. Consequently, the FRC says that it considers “the right balance at the current time is to take forward only a small number of the original 18 proposals” that were set out in its consultation document. Proposals that will be dropped include those relating to the role of audit committees on environmental and social governance, and modifications to existing code provisions around diversity, over-boarding (i.e. where one director sits on too many committees), and committee chairs engaging with shareholders (such as pension fund investors). The FRC also says that once the updated UK corporate governance code is issued in January 2024, it will start to engage with stakeholders on how best to review the UK stewardship code, including engaging with other regulators. In our weekly update of 5 July 2023, we noted that this would include The Pensions Regulator.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver his autumn statement on Wednesday 22 November. When the Mansion House package of pensions reforms were announced in July, he said that “all final decisions will be made ahead of the autumn statement”. Next week, our pensions newsletter will be issued on Thursday 23 November, so that we can include headlines stemming from the autumn statement.