Pensions - Articles - Pensions industry supports TPR Covid19 response

Research from the Pensions Management Institute’s (PMI) latest PMI Pulse survey reveals that industry professionals are overwhelmingly supportive of the Pension Regulator’s (TPR) response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents are satisfied with the actions of TPR over the last six months and a similar proportion, 76%, thought that TPR’s advice to pension schemes during the Covid-19 emergency had been helpful. The survey*, conducted in early June, uncovered a general consensus that, while the outlook is not positive, the Regulator has been nimble and issued helpful guidance for schemes.

 Despite reports of increased scamming activity during the lockdown period, over two thirds (67%) of respondents said that they had actually seen no noticeable increase to the level of scams in operation. 

 However, industry approval does not translate as we go into H2, as 60% of respondents say they are pessimistic about the direction of pensions policy over the next six months – despite the majority (70%) feeling confident that TPR itself will focus on the right areas over the same period.

 With the Pension Schemes Bill still under consultation, respondents felt regulation is on the right track but issues such as Clause 107 need to be more tightly defined. 80% are concerned that Clause 107 of the Pension Schemes Bill will criminalise normal DB scheme management and consultancy services.

 With reference to the Pensions Regulator’s proposed twin-track regime for DB valuations, respondents were also divided on the best approach. 45% thought that the majority of schemes would opt for a bespoke route while one fifth (22%) expect many to choose fast track options.

 Over the course of the next six months, and into 2021, the Government will no doubt look to seek fiscal savings via the pensions system. 74% predict that the withdrawal of the pensions triple lock would be applied, while 61% expect to see a fixed rate of pensions tax relief and 24% think that the industry will see an accelerated increase in the state pension age.

 Lesley Carline, President, Pensions Management Institute, commented: “Pensions policy has taken somewhat of a backseat during the current environment, while the Government deals with the unprecedented challenges our society faces.

 “The industry has been impressed by the agility of the Pensions Regulator with numerous guidance notes as well as flexibility around deficit repair contributions. However, it is clear that professionals are concerned with the delay to the Pension Schemes Bill and that schemes must be properly equipped in order to operate in the new world that we now find ourselves in. In particular, they must adapt to increasingly pressurised funding levels and the possibility of a no deal Brexit.”

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