In a claim before the PPF Ombudsman, the trustees of the Tokheim Limited Retirement Benefits Scheme challenged the risk-based levy charged to the scheme, largely on the basis that they had not been able to submit a section 179 valuation in time, following the resignation of the scheme actuary.
The actuary had resigned just before the section 179 valuation was due. The trustees had wanted to consider the next actuarial appointment carefully; they did not want to simply appoint a new actuary from the same firm. They missed the deadline for submission of the s179 valuation and the new actuary's report subsequently suggested that the PPF levy had been based on an incorrect figure for scheme liabilities, which resulted in a higher levy being payable.
Whilst expressing sympathy with the trustees' position, the PPF Ombudsman found that the PPF had acted within its powers and in accordance with legislation. Where a section 179 valuation had not been submitted, then the PPF calculated the levy by reference to the scheme's adjusted MFR data; there was no discretion in these circumstances to accept information after the deadline for submission.
The PPF Ombudsman noted that the PPF had discretion to accept late information only where an attempt to submit it on time had been thwarted by communication problems outside of the scheme's control. The PPF also has discretion where it appears that the information on which the levy calculation was based "was incorrect in a material respect." However, the PPF Ombudsman pointed out that information is not "incorrect" simply because there is more up-to-date information which might replace it.
The PPF Ombudsman also noted that the trustees could have avoided missing the submission deadline by, for example, appointing an actuary from the same firm on a temporary basis.
This case is a timely reminder of the intransigence of PPF submission deadlines.