As reported in our June update on regulatory easements, earlier this year the Pensions Regulator ("TPR") announced several temporary changes to its regulatory requirements in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Last week TPR issued a press release announcing the resumption of the normal regulatory regime in relation to some of these temporary easements and provided updated COVID-19 guidance reflecting these latest changes.
This blog provides a brief summary of the latest update from TPR, which scheme trustees, pension providers and employers should be aware of.
Reporting late contribution payments
To help ease the difficulties faced by schemes and employers as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, TPR had extended the time limit for reporting late contribution payments from 90 days to 150 days. TPR is now asking that, from 1 January 2020, defined contribution pension schemes and providers resume reporting late contribution payments no later than 90 days after the due date. The return to a 90-day reporting requirement will become mandatory with effect from 1 April 2020. TPR believes this will allow sufficient time for outstanding employer contributions to be brought up to date and for any adjustments required to scheme systems and processes to be made.
Further resumption of the pre-COVID regulatory regime
This latest COVID-19 update from TPR also confirms that from 1 October 2020 other temporary easements, which had been introduced to allow schemes to concentrate on the immediate risk presented by COVID-19, will return to their pre-pandemic positions. This includes the resumption of:
- TPR's normal approach to enforcement in relation to late preparation of audited accounts;
- TPR reviewing chairs' statements submitted on and after 1 October 2020; and
- TPR's usual position in relation to investment governance (e.g. TPR will revert to its regular approach to enforcement and the taking of regulatory action where a review of a Statement of Investment Principles is late).
TPR will continue to assess breaches of administrative and compliance requirements on a case-by-case basis and respond pragmatically where COVID-19 related reasons for a breach can be demonstrated. The Pensions Ombudsman has also confirmed in its COVID-19 update that it will take TPR's latest guidance into account when receiving complaints about delays caused by COVID-19 related circumstances.
If you would like to discuss anything raised in this blog, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.