TPR plans trustee code consolidation; code consultation expected early 2021

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has confirmed plans to review and update a consolidated Trustee Knowledge and Understanding code, with a consultation expected in early 2021.

Speaking at the Pensions Age DB Forum, held in association with Mercer, TPR lead investment consultant, Fred Berry, confirmed the regulators commitment to updating the existing Code of Practice on Trustee Knowledge and Understanding, with plans to produce “one modular code”.

"We are going to review and update our code of practice on Trustee Knowledge and Understanding. We anticipate putting out a consultation on that in early in 2021 once we've done a big exercise in consolidating," he stated

The updated code is expected to cover issues such as the minimum requirement for ongoing learning, with Berry stating that 15 hours for a lay trustee, and 25 hours for a professional trustee were in line with industry standard and seemed a “reasonable” level.

He also confirmed the regulators commitment to the trustee toolkit, describing this as an “old friend” for many in the industry, and emphasised that this would be updated over the next year.

Berry added: “We will also be consulting on different ways for trustees to be able to demonstrate that they are complying with knowledge and understanding requirements”.

This follows the launch of a professional pension trustee accreditation process by the Association of Professional Pension Trustees (APPT) earlier this week.

The accreditation process and standards were developed in close consultation with TPR, echoing the recommendation for a minimum of 25 hours continued professional development for professional trustees.

The regulator praised the strength of industry participation in the recent trusteeship consultation, with a record 114 responses received.

Noting that a number of responses raised the issue of having sufficient time to undertake trustee duties, Berry emphasised the legal duty for employers to give trustees time off to fulfil these duties.

Berry added: "[TPR] are going to be undertaking a communications exercise to remind employers of that legal obligation, and then hopefully making it easier for the trustees to get time in the day job to do that [work]."

TPR published its full response to the Future of Trusteeship and Governance consultation last week, dropping some of the more stringent requirements around professional and sole trusteeship in favour of support for the APPT standards and accreditation.

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