Recent social welfare and pensions legislation introduces a number of important pensions reforms, including:
Restructuring of the Pensions BoardThe existing Pensions Board will be renamed as the Pension Authority. The new Pensions Authority will have two distinct arms – a three-person Pensions Commission with an independent chair to provide oversight on pensions regulation and a separate unpaid Pensions Council, comprised of members representing various consumer interests, which will advise the Minister for Social Protection on pensions policy. As part of this restructuring, the current Chief Executive of the Pensions Board will be known as the Pensions Regulator.
The restructuring of the Pension Board will not begin until the Minister for Social Protection passes the relevant commencement order.
- Additional Pensions Board PowersWith effect from 28 June 2013, the Pensions Board has the power to wind up a pension scheme in circumstances where a scheme is underfunded and the trustees and the employer are not in a position to adopt a funding proposal or where the trustees of a scheme fail to comply with a Pensions Board direction to restructure scheme benefits.
In addition to the changes effected by the Act, the Government has also recently announced the amalgamation of the offices of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Services Ombudsman. It is clear that the landscape of pensions governance and regulation in Ireland is changing significantly. It is intended that these changes will strengthen the governance and regulation of occupational pension schemes, ensuring greater public awareness of pensions oversight and increase consumer trust in the pensions system.