Pensions Weekly Update – 27 March 2024

March 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.

  • An order has been made confirming that The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) general code of practice will come into force on 28 March 2024. Watch out for our materials on the general code, which will appear on social media tomorrow.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued its dashboards connections guidance. This contains a timetable of the dates by which schemes are expected to connect to the dashboards ecosystem in a staged way that allows the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) to manage activities and provide support. TPR has updated its initial guidance and is contacting trustees of schemes in scope for dashboards connection to provide more information. If trustees do not receive a communication from TPR, they should check the contact details supplied on Exchange. It is a legal requirement for trustees and pension providers to “have regard to” the DWP guidance, and, if requested, they must be able to evidence this or they risk being in breach of the requirement and potentially subject to penalties. It is, therefore, very important to maintain a clear audit trail. The timetable applies to schemes connecting via a third party such as an integrated service provider or administrator. If a scheme is intending to build a direct dashboards connection via an in-house solution, contact should be made with the PDP as soon as possible (if there is no engagement at present). There is also more information in the guidance for schemes undertaking a change of administrator if that might delay connection beyond the DWP timetable (but where the delay is not expected to go beyond the overall deadline of 31 October 2026). We recommend that trustees read this guidance, establish their connection date and update project plans to ensure that the scheme is on track for connection by the connection date. Trustees should seek legal advice if they have any concerns about dashboards compliance, or if they are entering into new contracts (or updating contractual terms) with service providers. See Pensions partner Philip Sutton’s blog post for more information on the legal issues.
  • TPR has published the results of its first survey on trustee diversity and inclusion. The survey was completed by more than 2,000 trustees and the results will provide a benchmark for measuring future progress. TPR says that the survey highlights the lack of trustee diversity in terms of protected or visible characteristics, but most trustee boards are diverse in terms of skills, life experience, professional background, cognitive diversity and education.
  • Nausicaa Delfas, chief executive of TPR, has published a blog post ahead of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) forthcoming consultation on value for money. TPR is working in partnership with the FCA and is urging master trusts and large defined contribution schemes to engage with the consultation.
  • Following a question asked by conservative MP Anthony Mangnall, the pensions minister has confirmed in a written answer that more funding is being made available to The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) to reduce the length of time to deal with cases. An additional £1,050,000 has been allocated for 2024-25 specifically for casework activities. This should assist with reducing a backlog of cases, with some alleged pension scam complaints being put on hold due to insufficient resources.
  • While the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 removed the impact of many EU laws in the UK, financial services regulations deriving from EU law were excluded from the act, because they are being addressed separately as part of the government’s aim to build a better, more flexible regulatory framework in relation to financial services. HM Treasury has published a progress update. The update notes that 777 assimilated (retained) EU laws have been identified as applying to the financial services industry, of which 344 have now been repealed. Future changes, and consultations on technical draft legislation, will be included in the regulatory initiatives grid produced by the Financial Services Regulatory Initiatives Forum.

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

Read Our Previous Updates