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Pensions regulator takes aim at trustees in anti-avoidance clampdown

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The Pensions Regulator has said it will continue to take action against scheme trustees who fail to complete “basic tasks” when running pension schemes.

In a blog on TPR’s website, executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish says that the regulator is just as concerned about how schemes are run on a day-to-day basis as it was with using bigger ticket enforcement powers.

This includes completing chair’s statements and filing scheme returns on time.

Parish writes: “My message is that it’s time for schemes to shape up.

“We’re currently focusing on ensuring that all pension schemes – no matter how big or small – comply with the basic legal requirements.

“Our recent regulatory intervention report details how we’ve issued our first fines against a number of master trust schemes for failing to complete a chair’s statement.

“We’ve also fined more trustees who have failed to complete their scheme return and we’ll continue to take action where trustees do not comply with their basic duties.

“All trustees need to be aware that not completing these necessary, basic tasks is a breach of the law and we will take this seriously. We regard these failures as significant because they are often a symptom of more serious failings. We’ll continue to educate those running schemes to make sure they’re run to the high standards we expect – but no one should be under any illusions that we will take action when they’re not.”

Parish adds that making sure the fundamentals of scheme management are adhered to would make it less likely TPR would use its anti-avoidance powers against schemes, as it did in December securing a £255 million settlement from sewing thread manufacturer Coats Group.

Parish says: “As we start 2017, my message to trustees is to ensure that they tackle the basics and are on top of their scheme management. This will help them avoid action from us – and more importantly, it will make sure that consumers’ and scheme sponsors’ money is looked after to the standard they have a right to expect.

“Those running pension schemes should be aware that we will use our powers where needed, to ensure better outcomes for savers and sponsors now, and in the years to come.”

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