Field calls for DB superfund regulation

Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field has called for the government to include defined benefit superfund legislation in the upcoming Pensions Bill.

The bill is expected to be included in the Queen’s speech, which is scheduled for 14 October, and Field warned that another pension scandal could be on the horizon if superfund regulation it is not addressed.

Field had previously written to Pensions Minister Guy Opperman asking if the legislation would be included but got no response.

Field stated: “Why won’t the government act when it knows what can happen to life savings even when there is regulation?

“The Queen’s speech must outline government action on this front, with full regulation of superfunds, if we are not to see more workers robbed of their due entitlement exactly as happened at BHS and British Steel.”

In July, the cross-party ministerial team asked for more time to plan and introduce DB consolidation legislation as it is “a really difficult and technical area”.

However, it does not appear that it will be part of the bill, which will reportedly include a DB white paper.

This would mean that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will be required to supervise aspiring superfunds, as well as review employer applications for clearance into the superfunds, for longer than first anticipated.

Commenting, LCP partner, Gordon Watchorn, said: “We urgently need regulatory clarity on superfunds as the current lack of certainty means we are in limbo in this area. Deals aren’t happening because of this which means potentially worse outcomes for members.

“Before deciding whether a superfund is an option to consolidate a scheme, trustees and companies would carry out a thorough analysis before transacting to demonstrate there can be improved benefit security – but for this to be robust there needs to be a framework in place.”

There are currently two DB superfunds, Clara Pensions and the Pension SuperFund, but neither are active in the DB market.

Despite this, the Pension SuperFund has announced two DB consolidation deals, the second of which would see it take on £300m of closed DB pension liabilities.

TPR has previously stated that it expects DB superfund assessment to be completed by the end of the year.

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