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Pensions: what's new this week - 23 May 2022

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23 May 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: ‘Stronger nudge’: link to online booking tool; GMP conversion Act published; PASA cybercrime checklist; Tribunal: HMRC’s unauthorised payment discovery assessment not 'stale'.

‘Stronger nudge’: link to online booking tool

From 1 June 2022, schemes will be required to provide a ‘stronger nudge’ to pensions guidance in relation to members aged 50 or above who have a right to flexible benefits (and to individuals aged under 50 who meet the ill-health condition), when those individuals contact them with a view to accessing flexible benefits (or transferring to obtain access).

Schemes will be required to provide information about appropriate pensions guidance and offer to book an appointment with Pension Wise: an online tool is now available to assist with the booking process for members who accept that offer, and the Pensions Regulator has updated its guidance for DC arrangements on communicating and reporting to include a link to this.

View the online booking tool.

GMP conversion Act published

The Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Act 2022 has now been published. It received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 but the final version of the Act has only just been published. When the provisions of the Act come into effect (on a day to be appointed in regulations), they will make technical changes that are intended to make the process of conversion work more effectively. For example, the Act clarifies that the legislation applies to survivors as well as earners; provides a power to set out in regulations who must consent to the conversion and the conditions that must be met in relation to survivors’ benefits; and removes the requirement to notify HMRC of a conversion exercise.

Read the Act.

PASA cybercrime checklist

The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has published a high level checklist of actions that administrators should take to assess and improve their defences against cybercrime. The checklist covers meeting legal, regulatory and industry standards; understanding your scheme’s vulnerability to cybercrime; ensuring resilience to cybercrime; and remaining able to fulfil key functions.

Read the checklist.

Tribunal: HMRC’s unauthorised payment discovery assessment not ‘stale’

The Upper Tribunal has ruled that a delay by HMRC in making a discovery assessment (an assessment to recover tax charges that have not been reported) in relation to unauthorised payments from a registered pension scheme did not invalidate the assessment. The First-Tier Tribunal had found that the discovery had become ‘stale’ and ceased to qualify because HMRC was aware of the unauthorised payment in 2011 but did not make the assessment until 2014. This decision has now been reversed (following a recent Supreme Court decision on the same issue): the concept of ‘staleness’ does not exist in the context of discovery assessments, so if HMRC makes a discovery assessment that qualifies as such, it does not cease to qualify simply due to the passage of time.

Read the case.