TPR publishes Corporate Plan 2021-24; 'flexibility' needed amid Covid-19 recovery

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published its 2021-24 Corporate Plan, identifying the implementation of the Pension Schemes Act (PSA), combatting scams, and developing a framework for measuring value for money as three priorities following a Covid-19 recovery.

The importance of flexibility amid the pandemic and subsequent budgetary constraints were highlighted throughout the plan, with priorities outlined in line with TPR's recent commitment to put pension savers at the heart of its work, as per its 15-year Corporate Strategy.

TPR noted that it was previously forced to re-prioritise plans for 2020/21 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, confirming that it remains in a position where it must remain as “flexible and adaptable as possible to reflect the ongoing impact of the pandemic”.

It acknowledged that this may mean taking some "difficult prioritisation decisions", noting that by being "flexible, realistic and clear" it can adapt to both the challenges of the pandemic and budgetary constraints.

For instance, TPR stated that it anticipates an increase in the need for engagement and oversight of schemes, via trustees, with sponsoring employers who are experiencing financial distress, noting that this may in turn see other supervision work become “leaner and more focused where possible”.

TPR also said that its responsibilities are increasing as a result of the PSA 2021, stating that it therefore has to carefully consider where it deploys its budget and resources, as funding is “more constrained” and is likely to remain so over the term of the Corporate Plan.

Further explanation as to how TPR's work will be measured was also outlined in the plan, with a mix of 15 quantitative, milestone and progress-based key performance indicators identified in line with the strategic priorities.

It revealed that would continue supporting the Department for Work and Pensions with the legislative framework for defined benefit (DB) superfunds, which it expected to be introduced from 2022/23.

TPR chief executive, Charles Counsell, commented: “Following a challenging year, our Corporate Plan sets out our priorities for the next three years as we work to support scheme trustees, employers and savers in the recovery from the pandemic.

“The plan reflects the commitments made in our long-term strategy and builds on the work we have done in recent years to be a clear, quick and tough regulator.

“The landscape ahead is both exciting and challenging and we are determined to embrace ever more change: from the ongoing shift from DB to defined contribution (DC) and market consolidation to the emergence of new technologies and the impact of climate change on trustee and employer decision making.”

TPR chair, Sarah Smart, added: “We want to enhance and protect all savers’ pensions and in the current climate it is more important than ever we remain efficient, risk-based and proportionate in the work we do.

“The Pension Schemes Act 2021 has given us more powers and so we expect to face some difficult prioritisation decisions about where to focus our resource, based on our ambition to reduce risk to savers and given our funding is more constrained.

“However, by being flexible, realistic and clear about what we can and should achieve, we will adapt to ensure we meet our goal to protect savers and make workplace pensions work for savers.”

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