43% of trustees and employers unconcerned by TPR's new powers

Almost half (43 per cent) of pension trustees and employers said they had no concerns about The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR’s) new powers, according to a webinar survey from Sackers.

The pension specialist law firm said its survey had also found that 40 per cent of respondents, who were from both defined contribution and defined benefit (DB) schemes, were mildly concerned, while 17 per cent said they were either very or extremely concerned by the changes.

The regulator’s new powers, which stem from the Pension Schemes Bill, include the ability to enact criminal sanctions against industry professionals who are not deemed to have acted in the best interests of scheme members.

It has been confirmed that these powers, which are expected to be available to TPR from autumn 2021, will not apply retrospectively, but some industry figures have nonetheless voiced concerns.

Sackers partner, Peter Murphy, commented: “Our survey has showed that many trustees and employers are not, at present, overly concerned with the powers and how they might be deployed in practice. But it is still early days and, with more information to be published in the months ahead, I expect we will all be in a better position to judge by the end of the year.”

He advised trustees and employers to “keep a close eye on the various regulations, codes and guidance as they develop”, adding that decision-makers needed to be more aware of their obligations even though it was doubtful that there would be “a flurry of criminal prosecutions”.

Murphy concluded: “Regardless of when exactly TPR’s new powers will take effect, now is the time to recognise what they are seeking to achieve and act accordingly. Where there is a relevant DB pension scheme, significant corporate decisions will need to be carefully considered in the context of TPR’s new powers.

“Trustees genuinely have a seat at the corporate stakeholder table, and they will need to engage responsibly.”

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