By Penny Cogher, Pensions partner at Irwin Mitchell.
Reporting requirements for those running a pension scheme that were paused in response to COVID-19 resumed on 1 July.
As a result of the COVID-19 situation TPR has have been adopting a more flexible approach to what it expects to be reported in a number of areas, and when enforcement action would be appropriate. TPR will continue to assess breaches of administrative and compliance requirements on a case-by-case basis and respond pragmatically where these breaches are COVID-19 related.
The Pensions Ombudsman has confirmed it will take into account TPR’s latest guidance on COVID-19 issues if it receives complaints about delays caused by COVID-19 circumstances.
Reporting requirement changes - trustees and administrators
Due to the COVID-19 situation TPR had paused certain reporting requirements for trustees and administrators. From 1 July, reporting requirements resume as normal, including for:
Suspended deficit repair contributions - trustees will need to submit a revised recovery plan or report of missed contributions
Late valuations and recovery plan not agreed
Delays in cash equivalent transfer quotations and payments
Failure to prepare audited accounts
Master trusts, where TPR expect formal reporting to resume
Reporting late payment changes - pension scheme providers
There is one exception to the return to business as usual on reporting: providers will continue to have 150 days to report late payments of contributions (other than deficit repair contributions), where normally TPR require information on late payments within 90 days. TPR will review this easement again at the end of September.
Enforcement - chair’s statements and failure to prepare audited accounts
TPR will continue not reviewing any chair’s statements that it receives until after 30 September 2020. Any chair’s statements it receives will be returned unread, so this should not be taken as any indication that the statement in question complies with the requirements.
While it will take a pragmatic approach to late preparation of audited accounts and will accept delays to 30 September, the legislation on chair’s statements does not give TPR any discretion about imposing fines where the trustees have not prepared the chair’s statement (which must be included in the annual report and accounts, but can be prepared and signed off separately) on time.
Enforcement - investment governance
TPR does not expect to take regulatory action if a review of a statement of investment principles (or statement in relation to any default arrangement) is not delayed beyond 30 September 2020.
Schemes in Relationship Supervision
Many relationship-managed schemes will have already spoken with their named supervisor. In light of the current exceptional events, TPR are refocusing our relationship-managed supervisory activity, focusing more on near-term risks rather than the standard activities in our supervisory cycle. TPR will be speaking to schemes they have assessed as presenting risks directly to better understand their position and the risks and issues that have arisen.
TPR will continue to take a risk-based approach in its regulatory activity, reviewing and assessing incoming requests against a range of risk indicators.
For further information contact Penny.Cogher@irwinmitchell.com or 07889 811057