New TPR regime will have ‘failed’ if it creates extra burdens for schemes

The Pensions Regulator will have “failed” if it places “onerous extra burdens” on pensions schemes following their new regulatory approach, its non-executive chair has suggested.

Speaking at the Society of Pensions Professionals annual conference last Friday, 21 September, TPR’s Mark Boyle said that it was looking to avoid an “additional level of bureaucracy” for schemes and instead wanted to implement a fixed point of contact for schemes to create an ongoing dialogue.

Last week, TPR announced that it would be introducing one-on-one supervision for 25 of the biggest defined benefit, defined contribution and public sector pension schemes, which would then be rolled out to 60 schemes over the next year.

He said: “We absolutely want to avoid this becoming an additional level of bureaucracy, one of the things we’ve heard time and time again is it would be easier for schemes if they had a fixed point of contact, one of the key outcomes of going down this route is that those schemes, and subsequently others, will have a fixed point of contact.

“They will have a conduit they can come through and dialogue with and develop a relationship with and we will work very hard to ensure that works. If this flips the other way, into onerous extra burdens, then we will have failed.”

Boyle added that it would need help from schemes and is looking for feedback as it pilots the new approach.

Commenting, The Society of Pensions Professionals president, Paul McGlone, said: “Having spoken to one of my clients this week, who has been through 15 different contacts at the regulator through various roles and different valuation cycles, I think they would hugely support having a single point of contact.”

Furthermore, Boyle confirmed that the initial schemes chosen for supervision would be primarily done through member size, in order to have “maximum possible impact with schemes and members”.

“The extension of our powers is not about making life difficult for those that are doing the right thing. It’s about a more robust and workable framework to ensure that those who are not doing the right thing are stopped.”

“Of course other risk factors will be fed into that as well … size of membership will be particularly significant,” he added.

In addition, Boyle said he would be bringing some of the activities from the auto-enrolment process, such as employer journey’s and escalating intervention into its broader activities.

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