Despite Brexit, the pensions world goes on...

Jonathan Stapleton
clock • 2 min read

The UK formally left the EU on 31st January. But, as Jonathan Stapleton says, the world goes on, especially in pensions.

Whether you voted for Brexit or not, the UK is out of the EU and is now able to focus on other issues, such as our future trading arrangement with 27 member states or, indeed, pensions.

And progress on pensions is being made. Last week, the pension schemes bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords.

Peers approved the proposed legislation - welcoming the bill's provisions on defined benefit (DB) funding, the pensions dashboard, regulator powers and collective defined contribution schemes. But, as James Phillips notes in his article on the bill, there are still concerns over the lack of detail in the draft bill, and several peers also questioned the number of clauses allowing matters to be deferred to the work and pensions secretary.

This includes allowing the secretary of state the unilateral power to increase the £1m potential fine for "wilful or grossly reckless behaviour" by any amount she deems appropriate.

Other peers expressed disappointment that the bill was missing crucial aspects relating to DB consolidation, auto-enrolment and other areas of pensions - with different peers saying legislation on superfunds, provisions to help employers struggling with section 75 debt and increased protections around DB transfers, and new laws on increasing AE contribution rates were all missing from the bill.

Other areas of pensions are also advancing despite Brexit, including two large risk reduction deals being announced over the past ten days alone - with three Lloyds Banking Group schemes completing a £10bn longevity swap, and The Co-operative Pension Scheme said it had completed a £1bn buy-in with Aviva, the first bulk annuity deal of the year.

On top of this, Stephen Timms (the two-time pensions minister) has been elected chairman of the influential Work and Pensions Committee.

It seems that no matter what happens with regards to Brexit (are we even allowed to use that word anymore?) the pensions world goes on regardless. 

Jonathan Stapleton is editor of Professional Pensions

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