Stormont agrees to extend Pension Schemes Bill to Northern Ireland

Stormont has agreed to extend the provisions of Westminster’s Pension Schemes Bill to Northern Ireland following a second legislative consent motion.

As some policy matters are devolved to the Northern Irish Assembly, the legislative consent motion relating to the bill was required to ensure that Northern Ireland provisions remain in place following amendments to the Westminster Bill.

The bill’s impact in Northern Ireland could be even greater than in the rest of the UK as it also extends the provisions of the GB Pension Schemes Act 2017, which could not be implemented at the time due to a three year period of deadlock and suspension.

Alliance Party Assembly member, Kellie Armstrong, said: “It is time that we ensured that people who have workplace pensions here are covered by the same protections as people elsewhere in the UK.”

Sinn Féin Assembly member, Sinéad Ennis, added: “The committee has been scrutinising the PSB for a number of months, and I thank the research team and all those who provided briefings to the committee. I am broadly content that the amendments fit within the aims of the original bill, which is to provide additional protections, safeguards and options for members of the schemes.

“The amendments, for the most part, provide further detail and clarity on what is already included. The climate change financial disclosures element is the new policy inclusion, and it is the element that has necessitated the additional legislative consent motion.”

The bill has been subject to a number of proposed amendments, with Work and Pensions Committee chair, Stephen Timms, having submitted an amendment to the PSB which would require the automatic booking of pension guidance appointments for savers.

Committee for Communities chair, Paula Bradley, said: “Planning and preparation for retirement is very important for all of us and spent pension schemes are often not given the attention that they deserve by many of us.

“As I reminded the House on 1 June, when we debated the first legislative consent motion related to the Westminster Bill, although pensions are a devolved matter, to all intents and purposes, in the UK, there is essentially one system of pensions that includes numerous pension schemes in Northern Ireland.

“Furthermore, The Pensions Regulator, the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pension Protection Fund all operate UK-wide.”

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