UK - The Pension Protection Fund is likely to be postponed until 2006, experts believe.
Consultants and lawyers say a delay in the first reading of the Pensions Bill – which may not happen until April – would make it “virtually impossible” for schemes to adopt the new rules by April 2005.
The government would be forced to push back the implementation date for more complex parts of the new legislation – including the PPF.
Norton Rose pensions partner Lesley Browning (pictured) said she did not expect the Bill to be introduced until April which would be “sailing too close to the wind”.
She said: “The thing with the PPF is that it is being started from scratch, so it is not as easy to put together. This certainly will be cutting it very fine and I would not rule out a one-year delay.”
Several consultants said the Bill would be delayed until the March Budget because the government could not publish it before the Chancellor agreed to go ahead with simplification.
Association of Pension Lawyers chairman Tim Cox said: “A further one-year wait is quite conceivable for some parts of the Bill.
“The PPF is the part that is going to require the most change and I think the current timetable is most ambitious.”
Mercer Human Resources worldwide partner Peter Thompson agreed.
“The more time that goes past, the less likely it is that the PPF will be introduced in April next year. You have to start wondering about parts of the simplification legislation as well.”
Thompson argued that there would not be enough time for the Bill to pass through the seven stages of parliamentary consultation before it receives Royal Assent in November.
The anticipated delay has outraged scheme members and unions. Chairman of the pensions advisory service, OPAS, Malcolm McLean said:
“Even a slight delay is totally unacceptable.”
Amicus head of pensions Julian Richards said: “To delay the PPF would be seen as a tactic by the government because a lot of people are opposed to delivering it.”
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