Defined Benefit  

Pensions lifeboat to create guidance for failing schemes

Pensions lifeboat to create guidance for failing schemes

The Pension Protection Fund is working on industry guidance for the treatment of pension schemes of companies that enter insolvency.

In its 22 page-long Strategic Plan 2019/22, the PPF stated a planned entry into an assessment period allowed for the best member experience.

To that end, with support from The Pensions Regulator, the lifeboat will roll-out industry contingency planning guidance.

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The number of savers entering PPF has been increasing in the past years, with high profile cases such as Carillion or British Steel entering the scene.

FTAdviser reported last year that the lifeboat was predicting its membership would increase by 52 per cent by 2020/21, mainly due to these schemes.

In its strategic plan, the PPF stated it will encourage schemes to appoint its experts - such as those in its trustee and pensions administration panels – to complex or high profile cases prior to insolvency.

The lifeboat added its restructuring and insolvency team would remain actively engaged with its partners and stakeholders.

The goal is to identify cases which may make a call on the PPF, and engage early with the employers and trustees to discourage pension dumping, but maximise returns for the scheme/PPF in the event of insolvency, it stated.

The PPF also noted that it has established two models of handling schemes in assessment – one primarily led by its in-house teams, the other primarily outsourced. The lifeboat will continue to switch between these two models to help manage the peaks and troughs of claims experience.

The pensions lifeboat, with more than £30bn in assets across 236,000 members, stated it remains robust and on track to be 110 per cent funded by the time it reaches its funding horizon, currently to be assessed in 2030.

Oliver Morley, PPF’s chief executive, said: "Over the course of this plan, we will continue to work closely with all our levy payers to develop services that will make it easier for them to comply with their levy obligations which are critical to our members and the members of their schemes.

"We also want to continue to improve the services we provide our members and want to offer our members the digital services they want which coincide and cooperate with our existing award winning services."

The lifeboat is planning to increase the use of member communications via its existing social media channels and will introduce new online services, including web chat and co-browsing to encourage members to engage with the PPF from their preferred device.

The PPF expects that by March 2022, 70 per cent of member transactions will be undertaken online.

maria.espadinha@ft.com