The majority of respondents in this week's PP survey believe it would be inappropriate for pensions ministers to side-step the regulator to rescue a crisis-hit scheme.
A strong majority (62%) of Pensions Buzz respondents has said it is inappropriate for pensions ministers to bypass the regulator to rescue a scheme in crisis.
It comes as pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann defended her decision not to meet former British Home Stores (BHS) owner Philip Green about the collapse of the company's pension scheme, after advisers told her not to interfere.
One respondent said: "This sounds very dangerous. Very few pensions ministers understand pensions - I'm not convinced the current one does.
Another warns it could undermine the regulator: "The pensions minister is not a technical expert. She should hold the regulator's feet to the fire, but we need expert consideration, not heroic leadership."
However, 30% said the minister should get directly involved in such situations with one respondent believing it is the minister's job: "Isn't that what they are for? I would expect TPR to report to them as a direct line upwards."
A second respondent said TPR would need to be kept updated: "If there are actions the government can take, it would be pointless to say that the government cannot get involved."
Just 8% sat on the fence.
This question divided respondents with 39% believing the criticism of the Pensions Regulator during the hearings over British Homes stores (BHS) is fair.
One respondent who believed TPR was not acting effectively said: "Lord Oakeshott promised ‘a tiger with teeth' would replace OPRA. Where was the tiger when the BHS pension scheme members needed it?"
Another said: "The BHS situation may turn out to be the tip of the iceberg. TPR really must get its act together to try to prevent further undermining of the pensions industry."
Of the 32% who thought the criticism over TPR is undue, many thought its powers need to be extended. One said: "Failings are in the system and the powers available - if someone brings a pea-shooter to a fight and the other guy has a big stick, who wins?"
Another said: "TPR's remit and budget are set by those that now seek to criticise it."
However, 29% were undecided, with one respondent saying "We haven't heard all the evidence yet, let alone read the report."
A majority of respondents (55%) believe annual pension increases should not be automatically converted from the retail price index (RPI) to consumer price index (CPI) across all schemes.
Many were worried members would lose out with one respondent saying: "If members have accrued RPI, they must retain it - that is the whole point of the legislation to protect accrued rights. This is a slippery slope that we should not go down."
Another said trustees should be able to make the decision: "We have already been through this minefield once, and found that it was best left to the trustees to make the appropriate decision that was going to be right for their specific arrangement."
However, 33% said there should be a statutory override to convert to CPI indexation, with one respondent arguing it was "long overdue".
A second respondent said: "Times move on and we cannot afford to modernise. Post-retirement increases are being provided at the risk of jeopardising future pension benefits to all members. Salaries are not guaranteed to be increased by a particular measure, neither should pensions be."
Most respondents (41%) believed a combination of factors affect issues faced by defined benefit (DB) schemes, with some saying it depends on the scheme.
One respondent said: "You cannot generalise like this. Each scheme has its challenges - certainly low interest rates and gilts are not helping."
Another stated there is: "too great an incentive by too many vested interests towards maintaining the status quo rather than proactively looking to reduce liabilities and move to buyout and windup of schemes."
However, 40% said low interest rates have the greatest influence, with "no sign that matters are going to improve".
One such respondent said: "Until interest rates go up, then DB schemes will continue to be hammered."
Just 8% said weak sponsors is the greatest factor.
Respondents were split on this issue with 41% undecided and arguing the scale of advisers' involvement depends on the scheme.
One said: "It depends - as a professional trustee, no, but for lay trustees their lack of experience can result in over-reliance on advisers."
Another asked: "How many is too many? Trustees are seldom dealt a good hand - very rarely do they have the nuts and usually they are drawing thin."
Of the 37% who argued advisers play too much of a role, one said: "Advisers take over for their feeding frenzy. Trustees are paralysed in the headlights and advisers take over, often advising trustees into a corner. Members are usually forgotten, in my experience."
Others feel professional trustees skirted their responsibilities: "There are more professional trustees who, while they have the capability and experience, would not want to be leading on too many initiatives in case matters took a turn for the worse and they became responsible."
Just over a fifth disagreed.
To see the full results, go here.
This week’s top stories included the rejection of an automatic guidance amendment in the Pension Schemes Bill, while The Pensions Regulator posted a sharp increase in the use of its powers.
The majority of the pensions industry agrees an eventual net-zero target should not be mandated for schemes as part of the Pension Schemes Bill, according to a Professional Pensions poll.
Defined benefit (DB) schemes that provide GMPs must revisit and, where necessary, top-up historic cash equivalent transfer values (CETVs) that have been calculated on an unequal basis, a landmark court judgment says today.
Regulators must act now to impose some "proper regulation" to stop another defined benefit (DB) transfer advice disaster, saysTim Sargisson.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has substantially increased the usage of its powers against trustees – posting a sharp rise in the use of formal information gathering powers and High Court production orders during the three months to the end of September....