By  Penny Cogher, Pensions partner at Irwin Mitchell.

Progress with the Pension Schemes Bill has been paused yet again following the Government’s commitment to hurry through legislation to combat the effects of coronavirus. Readers may remember that the Pension Schemes Bill was reintroduced in the House of Lords on January 7, after the December 2019 general election delayed its passage through in Parliament. The Bill was then expected to enter the House of Commons before Easter 2020.

The Bill still needs to go through, among other things, its line by line examination, and have its third reading in the Lords before it will enter the Commons. It then has to pass through five further stages before all amendments are considered and it reaches Royal Assent and is made into law.

The Bill includes long-awaited rules around pension dashboards, the legal framework for collective defined contribution schemes, which the Royal Mail has already set up for its employees, and new powers for the Pensions Regulator. The slightly more controversial parts of the Bill about superfunds appear to have been dropped but no definitive reason has been given as to why. There are still plenty of other potentially controversial parts of the Bill. The House of Lords’ debates have highlighted a number of issues, including the failure to implement the Department for Work and Pensions' own automatic enrolment review proposal to lower the starting age for auto enrolment from 22 to 18 (an important point as the UK moves forward with more apprentices) and a lack of detail on how the pension dashboard is to operate.

We understand the further line by line examination of the Bill is scheduled to begin on 30 June, once the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill has become law. However, there must be a concern that this Bill will again be potentially be derailed by Brexit.

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