Aries monitors every development in new and proposed legislation and official guidance.   Clients are kept up to date via the website, email alerts and tweets.   Aries serves as a one-stop source of intelligence on everything that is going on and coming up.   Aries doesn't miss anything of significance.

Here is a selection from our most recent headlines. You can get the fuller details by sending us an email - just click here to fire one off.

This is the bi-annual meeting between HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and representatives from the industry covering operational issues in matters of pensions taxation.

Actions from the last forum

In advance of the meeting, HMRC confirmed completion of five action points taken away from the last forum:

  • HMRC circulated guidance on the

Trust Registration Service to forum attendees on 5 June. Please contact Aries if you would like a copy.

  • Attendees asked for guidance on the annual allowance to include links to the more detailed Pensions Tax Manual. Unfortunately, this would violate a curious Government Digital Services (GDS - the site owner) rule banning links to other manuals.

  • Pension Schemes Newsletter 99 included guidance on events 22 & 23 and Newsletter 100 included guidance on reporting multiple small pots payments as requested.

  • HMRC added guidance to the Relief at Source Newsletter on the annual return of information to allay concerns about format changes . . .

13 Oct 2018  

At the end of August we reported formal recognition by HM Treasury that the UK might not reach any agreement with the other 27 EU Member States on terms for Brexit by the twenty-ninth of March 2019, the end of the Article 50 withdrawal period. The Government has since published a few more intentions in a no-deal scenario. The list of draft statutory instruments that are subject to the affirmative procedure includes two of particular relevance to pensions:

A. Financial Regulators' Powers

The draft Financial Regulators' Powers (Technical Standards etc.) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 (web link) delegate the Treasury's powers, under section 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the Bank of England and the Payment Systems Regulator to enable 'the regulators' to remove deficiencies in binding technical

standards, as identified in the Schedule to the Regulations.

Additionally, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 are amended to provide for the way in which the regulators are to exercise legislative functions of EU bodies which may be transferred to them under the Act.

HM Treasury has proposed the . . .

12 Oct 2018  

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has updated its checklist designed to assist defined contribution (DC) schemes when completing the scheme return. The 2018 edition highlights new information that will be requested:

With-profit investments

TPR wants to know if this type of investment is used, what features the scheme has and if any penalties are applied on surrender. On the features,

there is a 'not known' option, but TPR expects this information to be sought and detailed in the next scheme return.

Charge cap: early exit charges

TPR wants to know whether the scheme is compliant with The Occupational Pension Schemes (Charged and Governance) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/774) which prohibits early exit charges for relevant members joining the scheme on or after 1 October 2017; there

is a cap for other relevant members.


The return requires details of the last assessment of 'common' data and also 'scheme-specific' data (the new name for 'conditional' data). The return will ask whether data has been measured in the last three years, but TPR expects trustees to review data at least once a year. . . .

10 Oct 2018  

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has published another document relating to its levy. This one sets out the key principles the Board will apply when considering applications to change the data used to calculate the levy, specifically the:

  • types of correction that it will consider;
  • factors when considering a correction request; and
  • factors when considering late levy review applications.

The PPF notes that routinely allowing data corrections will involve significant time and resource, so it aims to strike an appropriate balance between the desirability of accuracy and the aim of operational effectiveness. The responsibility for providing correct information remains with schemes. To this end, the PPF will maintain a broad set of measures:

  • Setting firm deadlines for data submission.
  • Only correcting data after 'Measurement Time' where the circumstances merit it, rather than routinely.
  • Seeking to address corrections in a way that minimises undue administrative impact on the PPF.
  • The PPF points out that the administrative burden reduces where correction requests are received prior to invoicing. It will only consider correction requests, not . . .

    10 Oct 2018  

    Last Thursday, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released policy statement PS18/20, "Improving the quality of pension transfer advice".

    The statement follows a consultation (CP18/7) in March this year, which itself followed a related consultation (CP17/16) and resulting policy statement PS18/6. It confirms that the FCA will press ahead with introducing new rules and guidance (with one exception) aiming to improve advice for transfers of safeguarded

    benefits. The consultation also sought feedback (without proposing new rules or guidance) on advising self-investors and charging structures. The statement shared the FCA's findings.

    The FCA has expressed concern with the suitability of current advice following its supervisory work. In October 2017, the FCA published findings which showed that only 47% of advice it reviewed on DB to DC transfers could be shown to be suitable based on the information in the

    file. Subsequent file reviews on advice given to members of the British Steel Pension Scheme found only 51% of advice could be shown to be suitable.

    However, the FCA acknowledges that changes need to be measured so they do not further reduce the availability of advice. Professional Indemnity insurers are increasingly concerned about this area. As a result, some advice firms . . .

    09 Oct 2018