In its 2008 “Guidance for Policy Makers” the government stated that, subject to some exceptions, its policy was to only bring into force regulations that bear on business on either 6 April or 1 October (its common commencement dates). In keeping with this policy a number of important changes to pensions legislation came into force on 6 April 2009. Below is a short reminder of these changes:

  • the government removed the requirements to notify the Regulator of changes in key employer posts, key scheme posts or in the employer’s credit rating;
  • the transitional provisions contained in the Occupational Pension Scheme (Employer Debt and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008 expired;  
  • the Pension Regulator was given a new power to issue civil penalties against employers who breach their consultation obligations;  
  • the “look-back” period in which the Pensions Regulator will be able to use its powers to issue a financial support direction began to increase (the look-back period is currently 12 months but will increase by a month every calendar month from 6 April 2009 until 6 April 2010, e.g. the look-back period will be 13 months on 6 May 2009);  
  • the cap on revaluation of deferred benefits was reduced from a rate of 5% to 2.5% per annum and a corresponding change was made to compensation payable by the Pension Protection Fund for deferred benefits;  
  • trustees were given an overriding statutory power to amend scheme rules to reduce the rate of revaluation for deferred benefits and the rate of indexation for pensions in payment; 
  • sections of multi-employer pension schemes that are winding-up became exempt from requirements in Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 (scheme-specific funding requirements) where a specified part or proportion of the assets of the scheme is attributable to that section and cannot be used for the purposes of any other section of the scheme;  
  • section 37 of the Pensions Act 1995 was amended to allow a return of non-surplus payments to employers;  
  • the Pension Protection Fund compensation cap increased from £30,856.35 to £31,936.32;  
  • pension schemes became able to convert Guaranteed Minimum Pension Benefits into normal scheme benefits;  
  • safeguarded rights were abolished;  
  • references to the Upper Accrual Point replaced references to the Upper Earning Limit in relation to calculating National Insurance Contributions rebates for contracted-out schemes;  
  • the deadline for the registration for transitional protection from the lifetime allowance tax charge expired.