The Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2013 (the “Act”) made a number of changes relevant to pensions. However, some changes that might have been expected were not introduced.
The Act gives the Pensions Board new powers to order the winding up of a pension scheme in certain circumstances (concerning underfunding). Changes have also been made in relation to restructuring proposals; there are new information disclosure requirements and where there is a direction given on restructuring, this may be appealed to the High Court on a point of law.
The Act has restructured the Pensions Board. Under the Act, the Pensions Board will change its name to the Pensions Authority. The regulation of the pensions industry will, in the future, be undertaken by the Pensions Authority. The Chief Executive of the current Pensions Board will be given the new title of Pensions Regulator. A new Pensions Council will take up the advisory function to the Minister for Social Protection.
Notably absent was the widely expected change to the priority order for schemes in wind-up. This would have introduced some equality as between pensioners and other members on the winding-up of an underfunded defined benefit pension scheme. There have also been no changes to the transfer value calculation basis. These changes have now been awaited for a number of years and it is difficult to understand the delay in their implementation.