Pensions: what’s new this week 21 March 2022
21 March 2022
Welcome to your weekly update from the Allen & Overy Pensions team, covering all the latest legal and regulatory developments in the world of workplace pensions.
This week we cover topics including: TPR: updated chair’s statement guidance; TPO factsheet on complaints; Master trust administration charges; ICO ransomware guidance; Tribunal: fixed penalty notice upheld for failure to provide evidence of compliance.
- TPR: updated chair’s statement guidance
- TPO factsheet on complaints
- Master trust administration charges
- ICO ransomware guidance
- Tribunal: fixed penalty notice upheld for failure to provide evidence of compliance
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has updated its quick guide to the DC chair’s statement and the accompanying technical appendix. The changes include the removal of TPR’s previous expectation that the chair’s statement should be a standalone document: for scheme years that fall after 1 October 2021 it is acceptable to attach to the statement any information or documents that are required to be ‘stated’, as well as those required to be ‘included’. These should be contained in a clearly labelled appendix and referred to in the statement itself. Wording has also been removed which previously stated that, in TPR’s opinion, only certain documents can be provided via links. The technical appendix has been updated to reflect current requirements (in particular, in relation to ESG disclosures).
The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has published a factsheet for the public on making complaints. The focus of the factsheet is how to try to resolve an issue before approaching TPO. The factsheet explains how to make a complaint through a pension scheme’s internal dispute resolution procedure or, where a complaint is not directed to a pension scheme, through the relevant party’s complaints process. It also includes example wording for a letter of complaint and a reminder of deadlines.
Currently, costs that are solely attributable to holding physical assets are excluded from the administration charges which can apply in relation to members of an authorised master trust scheme. The provisions that currently contain this exclusion cease to have effect on 5 April 2022, but regulations have been laid before Parliament to maintain the status quo by continuing the exclusion from 6 April 2022 onwards.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued guidance on ransomware and data protection compliance, following an increase in the number and severity of data breaches caused by ransomware (a type of malicious software (‘malware’) that attempts to unlawfully encrypt files on a host computer system). The guidance includes a checklist of steps to protect against ransomware attacks, as well as eight scenarios based on the most common ransomware compliance issues seen by the ICO, with guidance on how to avoid or respond to them.
In a similar vein to a case reported on last week, TPO has upheld a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for non-compliance with an unpaid contributions notice (UCN). TPR issued the UCN after being informed by an employer’s pension provider that contributions were outstanding. The UCN required the employer to take three steps: (i) calculate the unpaid contributions; (ii) pay the contributions; and (iii) provide evidence of compliance to TPR. TPR issued the FPN after no evidence of compliance was provided. The employer appealed on the grounds that the contributions had been paid. TPO upheld the FCN on the basis that the employer had not complied with the requirement to provide evidence to TPR.