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Pensions: What's new this week - 14 December 2020

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14 December 2020

Each week the Allen & Overy Pensions team, rounds up the latest legal and regulatory developments in the world of occupational pensions. Contact us if you would like to receive our podcast summary, or our full briefing by email, at the start of each week.

Read the latest edition of 'What's new this week' below to find out more information on the stories that matter to you. 

New TPR blog post: DB funding consultation

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published a ‘myth-busting’ blog post commenting on its first DB funding code consultation. It notes that TPR is still considering responses to the consultation and has not firmed up its proposals for its next consultation (and that, in any event, the new regime will depend on the relevant legislation which is not yet in place – that is, both the Pension Schemes Bill, and regulations made under it). The blog post also comments on some specific issues, including the treatment of open DB schemes compared to closed schemes, de-risking and liquidity. 

The Pension Schemes Bill is currently at the final stage before Royal Assent. The House of Lords is due to consider amendments to the Bill made in the House of Commons, but no date has been announced for this.

TPR’s next funding code consultation is now expected in mid-2021. 

Covid-19: TPR asks employers to keep contact details up-to-date

TPR has updated its Covid-19 guidance for employers on automatic enrolment and DC pension contributions to include a new section asking employers to ensure that TPR holds accurate contact details (which could be a contact at the employer, or an adviser to the employer). TPR notes that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some contact details may have changed and important communications may not be received.

Contact details can be updated by using TPR’s Nominate a contact form.

Pensions cold calls: ICO issues £45,000 fine

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Pension House Exchange Limited £45,000 for breaching the ban on pensions cold calls. The ICO’s press release warns individuals to be vigilant against cold calls, and to report these to the ICO.

Government consults on corporate transparency, including corporate director ban 

The government has launched three consultations aimed at combatting fraud and increasing corporate transparency. This includes a consultation on implementing the ban on corporate directors – the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 contained amendments to the Companies Act that are not yet in force, that would require a director to be a natural person (subject to exceptions, and a transitional provision). 

In a previous consultation, the government proposed some specific exceptions, including for pension scheme trustee companies. It is now consulting on adopting a principles-based approach to defining these exceptions instead, with a view to commencing the prohibition in due course – it has proposed, as a starting point, that a company can be appointed as a director if all of its directors are, in turn, natural persons and those natural person directors are, prior to the corporate director appointment, subject to the Companies House identity verification process. This formulation does not accommodate all current trustee board structures; affected trustee boards may wish to consider responding to the consultation. The government is also asking for feedback in relation to limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships.

The other two consultations are: 

Improving the quality and value of financial information on the UK companies register (on the filing and publication of financial information); and

Powers of the registrar (on powers for the registrar to query, remove and amend information, and on removing the requirement for companies to keep and maintain their own Register of Directors).

The consultations close on 3 February 2021.

Covid-19: extension to suspension of winding up petitions

New regulations extend the period of temporary restrictions on the issuing of winding up petitions, as introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. The temporary restrictions were originally due to end in September 2020 but were extended to 31 December 2020. The latest regulations extend this period to 31 March 2021 – this is the latest in a series of regulations prolonging, or reviving, temporary measures under the Act. To read more about the key implications of the Act, see here and here.