This week in pensions: 5 – 9 September 2022

In a week that will be forever remembered as the week we lost Queen Elizabeth II, the pensions industry saw the appointment of a new Work and Pensions Secretary as Prime Minister, Liz Truss, named her cabinet and the launch of the cross-industry campaign to get people to pay attention to their pensions.

On Tuesday evening, Chloe Smith was named as the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with incumbent, Thérèse Coffey, moving to Health Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister.

The appointments process stretched well into the evening, with Smith’s appointment not being announced until almost 10pm, leaving us pensions journalists waiting impatiently at our computers as the hours ticked by well beyond our usual working hours.

At the time of writing, we are still waiting on news as to whether Guy Opperman will remain as Pensions Minister, with an announcement on the decision expected imminently.

Meanwhile, later in the week, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association and Association of British Insurers launched the Pension Attention campaign, which aims to improve pension engagement in the UK.

Regular watchers of TV channel Dave, like myself, will have seen a familiar face launching the initiative – grime artist and TV cook, Big Zuu.

While some in the industry admitted to not knowing who Big Zuu is, the launch and accompanying song were met with positivity, and hopefully younger people will pay more attention due to the celebrity endorsement.

Things were busy in the defined benefit (DB) space this week, with Just Group completing its largest DB transaction to date – the £484m full scheme buy-in with the Barloworld UK Pension Scheme.

As part of the transaction, Just reinsured around 50 per cent of the 3,000 pensioner and 1,800 deferred member liabilities with an external reinsurance partner.

Sticking with DB, Hymans Robertson analysis found that 45 per cent of tranche 15 schemes had lengthened their recovery plan end dates, noting that this was the first tranche that was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pension funding and assets have continued to rise since the initial impact of Covid-19, with global pension funds’ combined assets under management hitting a record $23.6trn in 2021, the Thinking Ahead Institute revealed.

These funding improvements were found to be likely in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) too, with Hymans Robertson stating that LGPS funds were likely to see an increase in their funding levels of between 7 and 12 per cent at the 2022 valuation.

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