Pensions Weekly Update – 10 January 2024

January 2024
Region: Europe

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.

  • Anthony Arter CBE has been appointed as the interim chair of The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO). The appointment took effect from 1 January 2024 and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said that a recruitment campaign will be conducted to fill the position permanently.
  • The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has announced in its policy statement for levy year 2024-25 that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is expected to publish updated guidance on asset classes in January. This relates to information that must be included in pension scheme returns, which the PPF also uses in its levy calculations.
  • In the government’s 2023 Green Finance Strategy, it said that the DWP would engage with interested stakeholders on how the DWP could continue to clarify fiduciary duties for pension trustees, particularly in the context of climate change. It would do this through a series of roundtables and a working group of the Financial Markets and Law Committee (FMLC). The FMLC is expected to publish its review and recommendations in the near future. The government recently noted that the majority of respondents to a call for evidence agreed that fiduciary duties are a well-established and well-understood concept by both professional and lay trustees, and that any policy intervention from government to change fiduciary duty would be undesirable. It will be interesting, therefore, to see the outcome of the review by the FMLC.
  • The pensions industry expects a number of developments in the first quarter of 2024, including guidance on pensions dashboards connection dates, a consultation on expanding the role of the PPF to act as a public consolidator of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, a consultation on making it easier to extract surplus from DB pension schemes and a consultation on draft regulations to extend collective defined contribution provision to whole-life multi-employer schemes, including master trusts. There are some developments that were expected before the end of 2023, which did not materialise. These include a consultation on regulations implementing the provisions of the Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Act 2023 (which would lower the age for automatic enrolment and increase the range of earnings used to calculate pension contributions), legislation on DB superfunds, TPR’s general code of practice and a commencement date for the Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Act 2022. In addition to this, changes to the notifiable events regime, which had been expected to be in force by April 2022, are still awaited. Correspondence between Laura Trott and Stephen Timms in April 2023 noted that the DWP wanted to “evaluate all options before deciding on the best course of action including any potential future legislative change". A new timetable for notifiable events changes may emerge during 2024.
  • For more pensions-related materials and news, see our Pensions Thought Leadership Library.

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

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