Pension Schemes Bill to progress to House of Commons

The Pension Schemes Bill has been passed in the House of Lords (HoL) following a third reading and will now move for consideration in the House of Commons.

Its progression follows two other readings of the bill during its journey through the HoL, with the government recently defeated in four amendment votes in the report stage.

Baroness Sherlock expressed gratitude for these "significant concessions" given during the passage of the bill, stating that as pensions are long-term savings vehicles, it is important to build upon "a foundation of political consensus" when considering policy decisions that could last decades.

Commenting on the passing of the bill, Baroness Stedman-Scott, the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, emphasised that the government had listened to the Lords arguments and concerns, resulting in 73 total amendments, which have "strengthened the bill".

Stedman-Scott continued: "This is an important piece of legislation that will benefit members of the public and help people plan for their future.

"As I said at second reading, the bill will have a far-reaching impact for people saving into their pension for retirement.

"It ensures reckless bosses cannot gamble with peoples savings, it transforms the way people get information about retirement savings, and it introduces a whole new type of pension to the market."

She added: "We recognised the concerns in respect of delegated powers, we listened to your thoughts about a public dashboard, we introduced measures in respect of climate reporting and the Paris Agreement, and we’ve responded to the threat of scams by tightening the rules on transfers."

Stedman-Scott also highlighted further amendments made to the bill in the HoL, namely issues around intergenerational fairness, consumer protection and scheme funding.

She continued: "We will be looking at these carefully, along with the strong arguments you made in support of them, as the bill progresses in the other place."

Adding to this, Baroness Sherlock noted key differences on the level of consumer protection needed to mitigate poor outcomes, stating that she believes the weight of evidence remains with these arguments, as do many regulator reports.

She added: "I hope very much that by the time the bill is debated in the other place, that the reasoning behind our report amendments, on the headstart of the public dashboard and the risks of dashboard transactions and questions of fairness, will find favour."

Baroness Sherlock also warned that whilst the provisions of the bill would be "timely and welcome" in response to many emerging issues, others will likely emerge as a result of the crisis.

As such, she has called on the minister to keep the HoL informed, as The Pensions Regulator "scans the landscape" and The Financial Ombudsman monitors new complaints.

She added that whilst not covered in the bill, there would also be close interest as to how the government regulates the newly emerging superfunds, "given the economic impact of Covid".

Commenting on the passage of the bill, Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, said: "With this bill, we’re pushing ahead with our innovative and ambitious pensions agenda, one that delivers for the record numbers of people saving for retirement.

"This government has already taken a leading global role in tackling climate change and cutting emissions. The measures introduced through this bill will help towards protecting the planet and contribute to long-term member outcomes.

"The Pension Schemes Bill is a milestone in bringing pensions into the digital age. I am looking forward to guiding it through the House of Commons."

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