Further regulations have been laid before Parliament that make twenty-one changes to various regulations that govern occupational, pension and stakeholder pension schemes.
A key change is that from 6 April 2009 the Pensions Regulator will have the power to impose a civil penalty if a person has, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with their consultation obligations under the pension Consultation Regulations.
Currently there is no express sanction for breach (for more information on the consultation obligations see EPB briefing 149).
Presumably the Regulator’s new power will apply to breaches of the consultation requirements that occur on or after 6 April 2009. Some of the other main changes being made are:
- trustees will have a statutory overriding power to reduce the rate of revaluation for deferred benefits and the rate of indexation for pensions in-payment (employers must consent before trustees can use these new powers);
- sections of multi-employer pension schemes that are winding-up will be exempt from requirements in Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 (scheme specific funding requirements) where certain criteria are met;
- transitional provisions in the Investment Regulations on employer-related investments will be removed to ensure that the UK rules comply with article 18(1)(f) of the IORP directive.
Most of the changes to the Investment Regulations come into force on 23 September 2010.
All other changes come into force on 6 April 2009.