One of the pressing issues for businesses that participate in a multi employer defined benefit scheme is the risk that certain events will trigger the "buy out" debt to be immediately paid, particularly on rationalisations or changes to benefits. The debt on this basis is usually very substantial and over the years a number of amendments from the DWP have attempted to alleviate this problem for businesses that are trying to make legitimate changes to their benefits and workforce, but have been hampered by the need to protect the scheme and prevent liabilities from sitting entirely with one remaining employer.
The DWP is addressing this issue again in a consultation aimed at businesses that are part of an industry wide scheme, where the other participants are not associated with them. A number of proposals have been suggested, such as it not being triggered as long as the "departing" employer is solvent or changing the way the liability is calculated, but as yet the DWP is keen to stress that none of these amendments will necessarily be implemented.
The consultation closes on 22 May 2015, but given that this falls after the General Election it remains to be seen whether or not the next government will take forward any actual proposals for change.