Fresh thinking is needed to make defined benefit (DB) schemes sustainable in wake of MPs' damning conclusions on British Home Stores (BHS), according to experts.
However BHS raises broader questions about where pensions sit within corporate governance and the viability of DB schemes generally.
Hargreaves Lansdown head of retirement policy Tom McPhail (pictured above) said: "The report exposes the tensions between shareholder and pension scheme member interests, and poses some important questions about how we manage these tensions for the thousands of other schemes which continue to operate under the shadow of substantial deficits."
The possibility of an economic slowdown could worsen an already unsustainable mismatch between the promises made to some members and the ability of sponsoring employers to pay for them, he added.
As a result, looking at solutions to these problems "should be an urgent priority for the new pensions minister", he continued.
LCP partner Bob Scott suggests the government could help stop companies going insolvent and into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) by providing a statutory override enabling schemes to lower contributions.
This could be done by allowing schemes that have retail price index (RPI)-linked increases (or higher) hard-coded into their rules to switch to consumer price index (CPI)-linked increases. "This would need to include appropriate safeguards so that profitable sponsor companies did not simply evade their responsibilities. For example, it could include a requirement that the scheme trustees agreed it was in the members' interests to modify benefits in this way," said Scott.
Royal London policy director Steve Webb called on Green, who sold BHS last year after owning it for 15 years, to help the pensioners. "Sir Philip Green has no excuse for being so apparently unaware of his responsibilities towards the company pension scheme and it is now time for action to deal with the problem," he said.
Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) director of external affairs Graham Vidler said the organisation's DB Taskforce will co-operate with the Work and Pensions Committee's wider inquiry into DB this autumn.
The Pensions Regulator's chief executive Lesley Titcomb echoed this and said: "We have already written to the committee setting out our preliminary views on which aspects of the regulatory framework could be improved and we and look forward to providing further input later this year."
Nearly every trustee is confident of the next stage in their scheme’s strategy, despite almost an equal number being forced to consider replacing plans within the prior 12 months, according to research by Barnett Waddingham.
Companies could be overstating their pension liabilities by up to £60bn due to their life expectancy assumptions, according to XPS Pensions Group.
Just Group has completed a £74m pensioner buy-in with the UK pension scheme of a US-listed engineering business.
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 said last week.
Regulators must act now to impose some "proper regulation" to stop another defined benefit (DB) transfer advice disaster, saysTim Sargisson.