Opperman ‘very confident’ Pension Schemes Bill will be passed by end of the year

Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, has said he would be “very confident” that the Pension Schemes Bill will become law by the end of the year.

Speaking at a Society of Pension Professionals (SPP) webinar, Opperman stated that, although he could not be exactly sure as to when the bill would return to the House of Commons, he expected it to “move at pace” when it does.

“There are certain bills, such as the Fire Safety Bill, that have got ahead of the queue of us,” Opperman explained.

“I cannot define exactly when the bill will be returning to the Commons. I hope it will still be before the end of the month, that is getting more difficult.

“I’m pretty confident that once the bill returns to the Commons it will move at pace. I would be very confident that this would be in law by the end of the year.”

The Pension Schemes Bill has had its first reading in the House of Commons, but the date for a second reading is yet to be announced.

Speaking on the introduction of the interim regulatory framework for defined benefit (DB) superfunds, Opperman said that he and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were “massive supporters” of superfunds for DB schemes.

“There is no question that a lot of people are very interested in this and lot of schemes are very interested in this,” he added.

“I think members will get a better return potentially by reason of superfunds. My personal view, and a DWP view, is we are massive supporters of superfunds. There is no question, this department thinks they are the way forward on so many levels. I believe there will be significant take up.”

He argued that “size matters” for pension schemes and, although there were exceptions, the expectation is that there will be an increase in consolidation.

“There is no question in my mind, if I was doing this job in 10 years, I would expect to see far fewer schemes and massive consolidation,” Opperman noted.

During the webinar, Opperman also reiterated his support for the pensions dashboards.

He admitted that it was a “Herculean task” to include all pensions on the dashboards, but that it was “the right this to do”.

“It is a slow but steady process. Many people would like to go faster, some people are trying to delay us, I take the view that this has got to be pressed on with,” Opperman continued.

“Success on dashboard is driving forward the project at a relative pace, insuring that we have appropriate data standards such that everybody is signed up and working on the production of their data, robust and significant compliance if they are not going to do that, ensuring that there is a logical and sequential flow to the development of dashboard, and trying to ensure that it is the tool that everybody wants it to be.

“If you are not spending money getting your data in order now, you’ve missed the boat to start with and be very aware that we are driving this project forward with or without you, and if it is without you there will be compliance issues.”

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