Pensions dashboards latest
On 2 March the Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) published guidance for scheme trustees on how to start getting ready for pensions dashboards. The guidance says that trustees should already be making a plan to ensure that their data is "dashboard compliant". Compulsory connection to the dashboards is due to happen in 2023, but it is intended to allow schemes to voluntarily connect to the dashboards in 2022.
In a separate development, on 13 May the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) published a progress update report. The report says that the dates on which pension schemes will be required to connect to the dashboard will need to be staged. The PDP has been working with the Pensions Regulator, FCA and DWP to assess different options for deciding the order in which schemes are required to connect.
On 27 May the PDP published a "staging call for input". It proposes that schemes should connect to the dashboard in three "waves":
- wave one: schemes with 1000 or more members (starting in April 2023 and running for up to two years);
- wave two: schemes with 100 to 999 members (starting when the bulk of large schemes have already connected to the dashboard, unlikely to be before 2024);
- wave three: schemes with less than 100 members.
The PDP recommends sub-dividing wave one into three distinct cohorts:
- cohort one: master trusts and FCA-regulated providers of personal pensions, starting spring 2023;
- cohort two: defined contribution schemes used for auto-enrolment, during 2023; and
- cohort three: all remaining occupational schemes with 1000 or more members in order of size, with the largest defined benefit schemes to onboard in 2023.
The call for input closes on 9 July 2021.
Schemes to challenge Government in court over RPI/CPIH changes
In a joint statement released on 9 April, the trustees of the BT Pension Scheme, Ford Pension Schemes and Marks and Spencer Pension Scheme announced that they will be seeking a judicial review of the Government's decision to align RPI with CPIH from 2030. The statement says that the trustees of these schemes believe that the far-reaching implications of the Government's decision have not been fully considered.
Government to review tax treatment of superfunds
On 23 March the Government announced that it will be reviewing the appropriate taxation framework for superfunds which are consolidation vehicles for defined benefit schemes. The work will proceed alongside the work under way on the development of the appropriate regulatory regime. The government says it should not be assumed that the tax regime that currently applies to entities and transactions in the superfund structure or pension funds that have transferred to the superfund will remain unchanged.
PSIG publishes revised code on combating pension scams
On 1 April the Pension Scams Industry Group (PSIG) published a revised version of its code of practice on combating pension scams which has been updated to include reference to various legal and regulatory developments since the original code was issued.
Money & Pensions Service launches new MoneyHelper brand
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has announced the launch of a new brand, MoneyHelper, which will bring together the services offered by MaPS under the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and Pension Wise. MoneyHelper will continue to use the brand name "Pension Wise" to refer to its guidance service for over 50s on their pension options.
ICO working on new Standard Contractual Clauses
In May the ICO announced that it is working on new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) for transfer of personal data outside the UK. The ICO plans to consult on the new SCCs in the summer. Since the end of the Brexit transitional period, organisations have been relying on existing EU SCCs for transferring data outside of the UK to a country which is not in the EU or EEA or the subject of an EU adequacy decision. The existing SCCs will be repealed when new EU SCCs take effect, therefore the ICO is taking steps to put in place the UK's own SCCs.
Enforcing judgments against parties in EU could become more complex
On 4 May the European Commission formally recommended that the EU should not agree to the UK's application to accede to the Lugano Convention which governs jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters between EU member states and EFTA countries (other than Liechtenstein). It is possible that the EU member states may decide to go against the Commission's recommendation, but the Commission's stance makes it unlikely that the UK will be permitted to accede to the Lugano Convention.
Trustees who have agreements with parties located in the EU or EFTA (eg a guarantee from an EU-based parent of a scheme employer) should be aware that the UK's exclusion from the Lugano Convention may mean that it is more difficult to enforce court judgments in the EU (or EFTA countries) following the end of the Brexit transitional period if the agreement does not have an exclusive jurisdiction clause. Many PPF contingent asset agreements do not contain an exclusive jurisdiction clause. The position in relation to agreements with exclusive jurisdiction clauses is more straightforward, as these are governed by the Hague Convention to which the UK is a signatory.
In the Budget on 3 March, the Government confirmed, as widely reported by the media in advance, that the lifetime allowance will be frozen at its current level of £1,073,100 until April 2026. The Government also announced that the Upper Earnings Limit for National Insurance will rise in line with CPI to £50,270 for tax year 2021/22. It will then remain at that figure until April 2026. If the Government maintains its current policy of aligning the upper limit of the qualifying earnings band for auto-enrolment purposes with the Upper Earnings Limit, this will mean that the qualifying earnings limit for auto-enrolment also remains static for 5 years.