Arcadia DB schemes expected to enter PPF assessment 'shortly'

Arcadia’s defined benefit (DB) pension schemes are expected to enter Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment “shortly”, according to a letter from The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

It noted, however, that the schemes' entry into the assessment period was still subject to validation by the PPF.

The regulator was responding to questions from Work and Pensions Committee chair, Stephen Timms, who wrote to TPR to ask how the Topshop owner's collapse would impact members and change previously agreed measures for contributions to the retailer’s two DB pension schemes.

A contributions package, which was agreed upon by TPR, Arcadia and Tina Green in 2019, included a £100m guarantee from Green, annual payments of £25m from the Arcadia Group and additional asset security valued at £210m.

Outlining how contributions to the scheme had been affected, TPR said Arcadia owner Green had already paid £50m into the schemes, and an Arcadia spokesperson announced on 2 December that the payment of the final instalment of £50m would be made in the next few days.

However, as this is restricted information TPR was unable to confirm or deny whether the final instalment was paid.

In response to another question from Timms, TPR stated that Arcadia assets subject to security assessments would not be transferred directly to the schemes, noting that administrators would be “taking steps to realise the value from those assets, and the Arcadia businesses in general, and will make payments to creditors, including the schemes, in due course”.

The letter, dated 18 December, added that the timings of these payments would depend on how quickly the properties and businesses can be sold.

The letter continued: “The trustees of the schemes, as creditors of the employer, will be kept informed by the administrators of Arcadia of when and how much of the schemes’ deficits are expected to be paid as the employer’s assets are realised.

“We, alongside the PPF, continue to liaise closely with the trustees and administrators throughout this process.”

The original letter from Timms had also raised concerns about scheme members falling victim to scams or being transferred to superfunds.

In response, TPR pointed to its current anti-fraud campaigns and superfund guidance, as well as noting that members would be afforded some safety by restrictions on transferring out of the schemes during PPF scheme assessment periods.

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