Govt’s ‘landmark’ pensions bill proceeds to Commons

Govt’s ‘landmark’ pensions bill proceeds to Commons

The Pension Schemes Bill, which includes rules for pension dashboards and new powers for the Pensions Regulator, has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Lords.

The bill, originally announced in the October Queen’s Speech, will now pass into the House of Commons where MPs will debate its measures before it receives Royal Assent and is written into law.

The Pensions Schemes Bill was reintroduced to the House of Lords at the beginning of this year (January 7) after the December general election delayed its debate in parliament.

It was then halted once again due to the government’s commitment to hurry through emergency health legislation to combat the effects of coronavirus.

Minister for pensions and financial inclusion Guy Opperman welcomed today’s progress, saying he was looking forward to “guiding it through the House of Commons”.

Mr Opperman said: “With this bill, we’re pushing ahead with our innovative and ambitious pensions agenda, one that delivers for the record numbers of people saving for retirement.

“This government has already taken a leading global role in tackling climate change and cutting emissions. The measures introduced through this bill will help towards protecting the planet and contribute to long-term member outcomes.

“The Pension Schemes Bill is a milestone in bringing pensions into the digital age.”

The bill includes long-awaited rules around pension dashboards, collective defined contribution schemes, and new powers for the Pensions Regulator.

It will "provide a framework to support pensions dashboards", including rules that compel pension schemes to provide accurate information to consumers.

New powers for TPR, introduced via the bill, will make it a criminal offence to have committed “wilful or grossly reckless behaviour” in relation to a pension scheme, which will carry a prison sentence of up to seven years for company bosses responsible.

The new rules also include powers for TPR to obtain the right information about a scheme and its sponsoring employer in a timely manner, so the watchdog can ensure that it is able to gain redress for pension schemes and members when things go wrong. 

The bill also includes rules on the operation and establishment of CDC schemes as well as to mandate pension schemes to adopt and report against the recommendations of the task force on climate-related financial disclosures.

This will ensure occupational pension schemes take climate change into account as both a risk and an opportunity, and compel trustees to disclose how they have done so to their members and the public.

Since the beginning of this year peers have been debating the bill and highlighted a number of issues, including the failure to implement the department for Work and Pensions' own automatic enrolment review proposal to lower the starting age from 22 to 18 and a lack of detail on pension dashboards.

Peers passed amendments earlier this month (July 1) to exclude all financial transactions from the pensions dashboard to protect savers from scams and to block commercial companies from operating dashboards until a publicly-run service, launched by the Money and Pensions Service, had been running for at least a year.