The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will use a rapid response team to respond more quickly to reports and intelligence about companies or major restructuring plans, as part of its new corporate plan.
The plan for 2019 – 2022 outlines how, as part of TPR’s more proactive and targeted approach, hundreds of more schemes will be contacted in the coming year.
Communications clarifying duties and TPR’s expectations will be sent to defined benefit (DB) schemes, newly authorised master trusts, defined contribution (DC) schemes and new employers with auto-enrolment responsibilities.
TPR’s new supervision team is already building one-to-one relationships with larger schemes. It is supervising more than 20 schemes and this approach is being rolled out with many more. This will ensure TPR better understands the challenges schemes face and identifies potential future risk.
At the same time, communications are being sent to more than a thousand schemes this year to monitor how savers are being treated when it comes to matters such as dividend payments to shareholders, length of recovery plans and efficient record-keeping. Action will be taken where standards are not met.
Mark Boyle, chairman of TPR, said: “The past year has seen our first prosecution for fraud, our first custodial sentence, and the courts handing down the largest ever fine following a TPR prosecution. We have also seen a number of high-profile cases being resolved, including Southern Water agreeing to pay £50m into its pension scheme under a shortened recovery plan.
“This year our corporate plan goes further to define the key outcomes that we aim to achieve through our work, and how we will evaluate those outcomes to demonstrate the effectiveness of our role.”
Building on last year’s joint strategy with the FCA, on tackling key risks facing the pensions sector, TPR and the FCA will launch a joint review of the consumer pensions journey. This will explore how disclosures and information from pension schemes and providers combine with guidance and advice services to help pension savers make well-informed decisions.