TPR blog reveals that it supports restrictions on statutory transfer rights and mulls an outright ban on new SSASs
This morning AMPS published its response to the Government's consultation on pension scams. It was a very well written and measured attempt to provide a balanced response to the difficult problem of how to help prevent pension scams.
Hours later however we had a quite different response to the consultation in the form of a blog by the Pension Regulator's chief executive, Andrew Warwick-Thompson. For those in the SSAS industry, the salient arguments made by Mr Warwick Thompson were:
- Statutory transfer rights should be restricted to a "safe schemes" list BUT only FCA regulated personal pensions and authorised master trusts should be allowed on it. Definitely not SSASs.
- Apparently part of the problem with SSASs is that they are exempt from many of the legal duties designed to protect members that are applicable to larger schemes. There is no discussion of the reasons for the existence of those exemptions, in the context of self invested members, SMEs and owner-managed businesses for whom such schemes are aimed. There is simply a statement that SSASs have gone far beyond the policy intent that created them.
- Pension transfers to SSASs should therefore be banned outright. SIPPs are a safer vehicle for self-investment because they are regulated by the FCA.
- To put a stop to their abuse by scammers, an outright ban on the establishment of any more SASS arrangements also warrants serious consideration.
TPR is not pulling its punches. It's also interesting that it waited to publish its views until the day after the Government's consultation has closed. The timing might suggests it didn't want to alert the industry of its views in advance. AMPS and SSAS providers may therefore need to consider further lobbying in this area if they wish to try to present credible alternative safeguards or reforms.
In any event, we await the Government's response to the consultation with interest.