Pensions Weekly Update – 17 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.

  • The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) long-awaited general code of practice has been laid before Parliament and is scheduled to come into force on 27 March 2024. The code consolidates and updates 10 former codes of practice. We welcome the fact that TPR has recognised industry comments since the draft code was issued for consultation in 2021. TPR’s expectations have been modified in some areas (where legislation allows) and further pragmatic suggestions from the pensions industry have been taken on board. For example, the timetable for completing the first Own Risk Assessment (ORA) has been pushed back – the deadline will now fall in 2026 for many schemes, but the exact date depends on regulations and should be confirmed with the scheme’s legal adviser. TPR confirms in its consultation response that the revised ORA should be “a more straightforward project for any well-run scheme”. Also, the requirements for a remuneration policy have been simplified and this policy will no longer need to be published. Where trustees have made progress based on the draft code of practice, minor revisions to policies will need to be considered – these can be assessed on a risk basis and factored into trustees’ compliance plans. Where trustees have made limited progress, they should now take action. TPR said in a press release, “At the very least governing bodies should be aware of where they fall short of our expectations and have clear and realistic plans in place to address those shortcomings.” Our Pensions team is working with many clients on compliance projects. Please contact us if you need any help to get this kick-started (if you have not made much progress) or re-energised (if compliance plans were put on hold due to other scheme priorities). Pensions partner Kirsty McLean provides further thoughts on compliance in her blog.
  • We noted in our weekly update on 13 December 2023 that TPR would be collecting information about a scheme’s investment consultants and fiduciary management service providers in the 2024 scheme return. TPR has updated its explanatory note with further information that will be requested for the first time this year. This includes:
    • Details of the scheme’s liquidity and leverage and the controls in place
    • Details of the primary contact with regard to pensions dashboard duties
    • Details about the companies that administer defined contribution pots built up by scheme members making additional voluntary contributions
    The extent of the information that trustees must provide in relation to asset breakdown has also been clarified in the explanatory note.
  • Congratulations to Pensions partner Catherine McKenna, who is celebrating her 30th anniversary with the firm! A lot has advanced in that time – especially on the technology front. Catherine recalls a time when copying a fax for the file before it faded was an important part of record-keeping!

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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