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.

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The Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB), officially in existence from 1 January 2019 (via The Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (Commencement No. 5) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/1330), creates one organisation from the three existing providers of government-sponsored financial guidance:

  • The Money Advice Service
  • The Pensions Advisory Service
  • Pension Wise

bringing together the provision of debt advice, money guidance and pensions guidance. It is understood that most if not all staff from these three bodies have transferred to the new body.

Note: "advice" is now appended only to debt; only "guidance" is to be provided on money and pensions.

"SFGB" is in effect a working title for the new body; its future name is to be determined by regulations made by

Secretary of State (FGCA 2018 s.1(2)). It is funded by levies on both the financial services industry and pension schemes. The new body is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, but will also engage with HM Treasury, which is responsible for policy on financial capability and debt advice.

As we noted when the creation of the new body was first mooted two years ago, . . .

11 Jan 2019  

In Countdown Bulletin 40 HMRC begins with a look at the implications of failing to request, from the Scheme Reconciliation Service, the surplus or deficit position of the pension scheme (as advised in Countdown Bulletin 39).

If the scheme is in surplus when HMRC's final refund and billing exercises run in April 2019, it will not give a refund unless the scheme has already engaged with HMRC requesting the financial position. The surplus will be retained in the

National Insurance Fund.

A scheme in deficit at that stage will be issued with a bill, to the scheme administrator's address. If HMRC does not receive payment, it will enforce liability in scheme for any Contributions Equivalent Premiums (CEP) that are still unpaid.

HMRC will require new authority from trustees to share financial data with third parties.

Also, HMRC has published guidance on

the on-going administration of contracted-out pension rights. Countdown Bulletin 40 explains why Contributions Equivalent Premiums (CEPs) are not covered.

HMRC has also published useful new guidance on:

  • The types of schemes that can receive Guaranteed Minimum Pensions (GMPs) and post-1997 Contracted Out Salary . . .

28 Dec 2018  

Following its levy estimate earlier in the year, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has indeed confirmed that it expects to collect a total levy of £500 million, down from the £550 million estimate for 2018/19.

It also confirms that for 2019/20 it will use the Levy Scaling Factor of 0.48; and the Scheme-based Levy Multiplier of 0.000021.

As the majority of respondents were

supportive, the levy rules will remain largely unchanged from the proposals set out in September's consultation.

The PPF has refined its proposed methodology for calculating a levy for commercial consolidators and established a workable rule for 2019/20. Most significantly, the PPF agrees that current risk reduction measures (Type B contingent assets and Asset Backed Contributions) won't support recognition of the buffer funds that are likely to be an

integral part of consolidation models.

It is therefore taking a principles-based approach to the recognition of buffer funds in the 2019/20 levy. It will be able to recognise buffer fund assets in levy calculations as long as they are held securely and able to be accessed by the scheme itself when required. The PPF's approach will develop in subsequent years as the market and regulation take . . .

24 Dec 2018  

The Government has launched relating to TPO a consultation seeking views on measures to:

  • make new provision for dispute resolution by The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO), in particular a function for early resolution of disputes before a determination;

  • allow an employer to make a complaint or refer a dispute to TPO on behalf of itself (Pension Schemes

Act 1993 prevents an employer from itself bringing a claim against the provider or administrator, eg in respect of maladministration of a GPP); and

  • make provision in relation to associated signposting provisions.

A triennial review in 2014 noted that the current dispute resolution process could be convoluted; in 2016 the Government agreed dispute resolution should be centralised with TPO; and in spring this

year The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS)'s work in this area moved to TPO, along with TPAS staff and volunteer advisers forming an Early Resolution Service.

Under potential new provisions, TPO could be allowed to:

  • 'mediate' and 'resolve' complaints and disputes; . . .

21 Dec 2018  

The Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1396) restrict firms from making unsolicited direct marketing calls to individuals regarding their pensions schemes.

There are two 'tightly drafted' exemptions, according to the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the regs:

  • where the individual being called has given consent to the caller to

receive direct marketing calls in relation to pensions (i.e. an opt-out regime);

  • where the caller is a trustee or manager of a pension scheme or a firm authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the recipient has an existing client relationship with the caller, such that they would reasonably envisage receiving direct marketing calls in relation to pensions.

Aries comment
As we noted earlier, this description of the first exemption is not entirely accurate. Exempt cold calls could be made to individuals residing at the same address as the person who consented.

'Existing client relationship' does not include a relationship established at the instigation of the caller. The recipient must have been given the opportunity to . . .

21 Dec 2018