Pensions Regulator to issue statement on recovery plans for defined benefit pensions

The Pensions Regulator will issue a statement in April to help trustees dealing with the valuation and recovery of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes.

Stephen Soper, executive director for DB regulation at TPR, has announced it will also publish an annual statement setting out its stance.

TPR will consult with the industry in April on the procedures that its case teams follow as they bring a DB pension scheme case to the determinations panel. The panel will also consult on an updated version of the procedures it follows for making a decision on a case.

Later in 2012, TPR also intends to set out its strategic view on how it will regulate the DB landscape in the future.

Soper said: “During the past four years of economic turbulence, the scheme-specific funding regime has provided the flexibility necessary to support sponsoring employers and trustees to find appropriate funding arrangements that protect the scheme, as well as being affordable and reasonable for the employer.

“The economic conditions at each valuation date are unique and trustees will need to consider the impact of these on their valuation and recovery plan closely.

“With this in mind, in April we will publish a statement that will set out our expectations of those trustees starting their valuation process at the present time.

“We plan to make this an annual statement, helping trustees to understand our expectations within the prevailing economic conditions. By publishing a contemporaneous statement in this way, it is also our hope that when we start to receive recovery plans for this group of schemes, fewer will require in-depth scrutiny or challenge from us.”

Darren Philp, director of policy at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), added: “It is good that The Pensions Regulator has acknowledged the impact the current economic environment is having on pension schemes.

“The current economic uncertainty, including the impact of quantitative easing (QE), makes guidance from TPR more urgent than ever, so we look forward to seeing the details soon.

“We hope that its guidance will go far enough in helping trustees deal effectively with the serious challenges pension schemes are facing.

“And with the possibility of more QE ahead, things could get even more difficult for pension funds. Inadequate action from TPR will push more final salary schemes towards closure.”

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