TPR publishes delayed 2020/21 Corporate Plan

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published its 2020/21 Corporate Plan, which sets out its priorities for the year ahead.

Its publication was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and its contents detailing how it will operate in the coming year have been shaped by the crisis.

TPR highlighted six priorities in the update, including supporting workplace pension schemes to ensure benefits are delivered through the “significant change” driven by the pandemic.

It will look to protect savers of all scheme types through “proactive and targeted” regulatory interventions, provide clarity to and promote high standard of trusteeship, governance, and administration, and intervene where appropriate to ensure that defined benefit (DB) schemes achieve their long-term funding strategies and deliver pension promises.

Ensuring workers have access to qualifying workplace schemes through auto-enrolment and continuing to “build a regulator capable of meeting the future challenges” were also specified as priorities.

“These are unprecedented times and TPR has responded swiftly and decisively to support savers and those who run pension schemes,” said TPR chief executive, Charles Counsell.

“Our plan outlines our re-aligned priorities and targets in light of Covid-19. But it also highlights we will not be blown off course and that our standards remain crystal clear.

“We are unwavering in our approach and we will continue to protect savers by using our powers to tackle those who flout the law, embracing new powers and continuing to forge stronger relationships with schemes so we can continue to support them and be clear what we expect of them.”

The regulator noted that its regulatory initiatives that were paused due to Covid-19, such as its Corporate Strategy, will restart “at the appropriate time”.

It will continue its work with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Money and Pensions Service (Maps) on tackling pension scams through ‘Project Bloom’ and work closely with the relevant bodies to deliver regulation on ESG issues and the pensions dashboards.

TPR added that it will continue to use its supervisory relationships to promote appropriate scheme funding to protect against the impact of calls upon the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and work on the implementation of the Pension Schemes Bill, including any new powers that are bestowed upon the regulator.

TPR chairman, Mark Boyle, commented: “Pensions are long-term investments and our corporate plan makes clear that despite the challenges of Covid-19, our continuing focus will be on ensuring savings are safeguarded for generations to come.

“We know the best support for a pension scheme is a strong and solvent employer, which is why we will continue to support UK businesses while protecting the interests of the country’s pension savers.”

Its Corporate Plan also included a financial summary, which revealed that the regulator spent £93.5m in 2019/20, £5.5m lower than the original budget of £99m agreed with the Department for Work and Pensions.

The main reasons for the underspend were lower regulatory case costs, lower project expenditure and reduced staff-related costs.

Its budget for 2020/21 is an increase of £10.9m over its 2019/20 spend primarily due to a £5.8m rise in staff costs and an increase of £5.9m in consultancy and professional services.

The 2020/21 budget was agreed before Covid-19 and expenditure will be subject to change once the regulator understands “the implications arising from the impact” on its plans.

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