Consultations launched on pension disclosure rules

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a consultation, which proposes to harmonise, simplify and consolidate the regulations surrounding the disclosure of pension scheme information.

The consultation, The occupational and personal pension schemes (disclosure of information) regulations 2013, outlines draft regulations and will be open until 14 April 2013.

It is aimed at pension industry professionals, pension schemes, trustees, the industry, pension scheme members and member representative organisations.

The consultation aims to:

  • Provide clarity for schemes on their regulatory requirements.
  • Provide consistency of requirements across the different scheme types, both for the purpose of scheme administration and the protection of members.
  • Provide members with consistent information, whatever type of scheme is being offered, so that members can engage with the scheme.
  • Ensure individuals can access the information they need in order to understand and manage their pension provision.
  • Fit with the changing pension landscape and overall workplace pension reform agenda.

The proposals include:

  • Omitting some of the provisions, including the removal of the requirement to offer additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) as part of basic scheme information.
  • Updating the requirements to disclose whether the scheme is tax-approved or whether an application for a scheme to become tax-approved is under consideration. Under the proposals, schemes would just have to disclose whether they are a tax-registered scheme.
  • Simplifying the rules about when workplace pension schemes must give information about material alterations to basic scheme information. Under the proposals, this information would be given as soon as possible after the decision to make the changes has been made.
  • Amending some of the information to be provided. Under the proposals, only basic information would need to be provided to new members and that more detailed information would be available on request.
  • Requiring pension schemes to inform members about lifestyling, including making them aware that lifestyling takes place at a certain age.
  • Simplifying the regulations for defined benefit (DB) scheme statements. For example, to make it easier for schemes to deal with flexible retirement, this would allow schemes to use the most appropriate retirement date when preparing the statement rather than prescribing that a specific scheme pension age must be used.
  • Ensuring that statutory money purchase illustrations (SMPI) are not only appropriate for existing scheme members, but also for the new cohort of savers introduced by auto-enrolment, providing them with information that they need to make appropriate retirement provision.
  • Allowing schemes to use the full range of electronic communications to members, including sending emails and making the information available on a website.

The government aims to bring the new regulations into force from 1 October 2013.