Call for cross-party co-ordination of pension reform as general code 'delayed'

RSM says cross-party consensus would bring clarity to pension reform agenda

Jonathan Stapleton
clock • 2 min read
Ian Bell: The continuing delay and uncertainty is frustrating
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Ian Bell: The continuing delay and uncertainty is frustrating

There needs to be “cross-party coordination” of pensions reforms following the further delay of the long-awaited General Code, RSM says.

The audit firm said that, despite initial drafts being completed over two years ago and the code being expected by Spring, parliament has now headed into summer recess - meaning the new general code of practice has been delayed until Autumn at the earliest.

RSM UK head of pensions Ian Bell said the industry needed clarity on some of these initiatives before any more came into fruition.

He said: "While improvements to the industry are of course welcome, the continuing delay and uncertainty is frustrating. We are still awaiting the finalisation of the new general code, while the launch of the new funding code and the pensions dashboards have already been delayed.

"We would very much like to see some clarity to help the industry bring some of these initiatives into fruition before announcing yet more consultations and potential changes."

Bell added: "As the parliamentary summer recess begins, the earliest we will hear anything will be Autumn, and at that stage, with party conference season and a general election looming, where will pensions feature on the parliamentary to-do list?

"It has been called for before, but now more than ever a cross-party consensus would be welcome to ensure the industry is well positioned for the long term, in the best interests of trustees and pension scheme members."

The regulatory position

A spokesperson for The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said: "We recognise the level of changes under way and those being considered is significant.

"It is important, however, to push forward with the initiatives that will improve standards of governance across the pensions landscape, help protect savers and enable them to engage with their pensions in a way we have never seen before."

It said its general code would provide "one set of clear, consistent expectations on governance and administration" to help governing bodies ensure their scheme is fit for the 21st century - adding it was keen for the regulated community to see its finished general code and awaited a gap in the parliamentary timetable to enable the code to be laid.

With regards to the other issues raised by Bell, TPR said it was "carefully considering" the feedback from its draft defined benefit funding code and consultation and working closely with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the regulations to ensure appropriate flexibilities are there, so it is fit for purpose going forwards. It said moving the commencement of the new code to April 2024 gave DWP, the regulator and the industry time to prepare.

It added it welcomed the new roadmap for the launch of dashboards and would continue to work with DWP, its delivery partners and industry to make dashboards happen - noting it would write to all schemes to confirm their staging date once the guidance has been published.

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