Pension simplification measures to be announced this autumn

Pensions reform minister Mike O’Brien has pledged to announce measures “in the autumn” to simplify the pensions system for employers.

O’Brien welcomed the independent review of private pension regulation published by Chris Lewin and Ed Sweeney this week.

“We will now consider their carefully balanced recommendations,” said O’Brien. “We expect to produce a full response in the autumn outlining decisions for further action.”

The review was broadly welcomed by employer groups.

Neil Carberry, CBI head of pensions and employment, said: “It is good news that the review accepted the CBI’s point that schemes should be able to get rid of outdated rules.

“We are also pleased it says that hybrid schemes should be dealt with differently by the Pension Protection Fund, as this could encourage greater take-up of hybrids.”

Meanwhile, Deborah Cooper, principal at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, said the proposals would encourage some employers to stick with defined-benefit pension schemes.

The report’s key recommendations for changes to the current legislation were:

  • Changes which might make it easier for employers to get back surplus funds in their own pension schemes

  • A move towards less detailed and prescriptive legislation, starting with simpler rules on what schemes must tell members

  • Changes to the circumstances in which an employer leaving a multi-employer scheme has to make a payment to the scheme

  • Making it easier for schemes to change their own rules to take advantage of changes to legislation

  • Concentrating the requirement for trustee expertise at board level, rather than on individual trustees.

O’Brien told Personnel Today last week that the government would simplify the pensions system to ease the burden on employers.

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