What happened in pensions in 2016: Part Three

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Ros Altmann left her role of pensions minister in July.
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Ros Altmann left her role of pensions minister in July.

PP Online looks back at a very busy year for pensions. Here's what happened between July and September.

July

15 July - Ros Altmann (pictured)leaves her role as pensions minister and calls on government to radically reform the pension system.

In her resignation letter Altmann said that while she has tried to drive "positive long-term changes on pension", short-term political considerations "exacerbated by the EU referendum, have inhibited good policy making."

18 July - MP for Watford Richard Harrington is named the parliamentary under-secretary of state for pensions.



19 July -Lawyers acting on behalf of Halcrow Pensioners' Association (HPA) disputed a proposed regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA) for the engineering company's DB scheme.

Irwin Mitchell, which is aiding HPA, said it has submitted a case to the Upper Tribunal of the Pensions Regulator (TPR).

The association, which has correspondence with around 528 members of the Halcrow Pension Scheme, is challenging TPR over the RAA which has been granted as part of a rescue plan. This will see the sponsoring employer being severed from the scheme with members going into the Pension Protection Fund.

Irwin Mitchell said the HPA is concerned the deal would set a precedent for millions of other pensioners of DB schemes. 

TPR said there was no legal basis for the HPA to challenge the proposed restructuring of the scheme in the Upper Tribunal.

19 July - The ICI Pension Fund revealed it saved £10m by completing its latest buy-in with Legal & General shortly after the EU referendum.

The scheme took advantage of market swings following the Brexit vote to get a better deal for the bulk annuity which covers £750m of liabilities.

28 July - The Halcrow Pensioners' Association withdraws its Upper Tribunal challenge of the Halcrow Pension Scheme restructuring after facing the threat of spiralling legal costs.

August

15 August - PP reports that over 2500 members of Halcrow Pension Scheme have agreed to transfer into a new scheme that lowers benefits but keeps them out of the Pension Protection Fund.

In a statement the trustees revealed 80% of the DB scheme's 3,204 members have responded to a consultation on a rescue plan agreed by the trustees, the Pension Regulator and Halcrow's parent company CH2M.

17 August - PP reports independent trustee firm PTL has been fined the maximum fine of £6,000 after it failed to prepare annual governance statements for three schemes.

24 August - a Pensions Buzz survey  of 101 trustees, scheme managers and pension professionals finds more than half (53%) do not see climate change as a financially material risk to their own or their clients' portfolios.

September

6 September - The Savings (Government Contributions) Bill, introduced in the House of Commons, indicates the government remains committed to introducing the Lifetime ISA for its planned April 2017 launch date.

However, there remain concerns some providers may not be ready in time for the launch due to a further delay in providing specific details on the policy.

7 September - TPR's executive director of regulatory policy Andrew Warwick Thompson urges trustees to "wake up and smell the coffee" over the risks ESG issues have on a scheme's investment portfolio.

12 September - A pension dashboard prototype will be launched by 11 providers next spring, the Treasury has said.

14 September - PP reports the British Steel Pension Scheme could seek to use a regulated apportionment agreement.

The revelation will be welcomed the pensions industry which was very worried about introducing legislation to allow the scheme to lower annual increases and run outside the Pension Protection Fund - with many concerned this could set a dangerous precedent for other sponsoring employers to take advantage and reduce their own liabilities.

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