PensionsMar 5 2021

Climate change takes priority in pension legislation

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Climate change takes priority in pension legislation

The minister for pensions and financial inclusion has laid out a plan for the upcoming secondary legislation following the Pension Schemes Act, giving priority to new climate change rules.

In a written ministerial statement published this week (March 2), Guy Opperman set out the next steps for legislation after the Pension Schemes Act 2021 received Royal Assent in February.

Following the consultation published by the Department for Work and Pensions on climate change in January, these regulations will be laid out in the summer to come into force ahead of COP26.

“This will make the UK the first major economy in the world to legislate for, and bring into practice, the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, ensuring climate change is at the heart of the pensions system,” Opperman said.

The government also promised to consult on the Pensions Regulator’s new powers this spring, and will commence these powers and the criminal offences measures – which include a sentence of up to seven years in jail for bosses who plunder or run pension schemes into the ground – in the autumn.

The draft regulations for scams and collective defined contribution schemes will be consulted on in the early summer, with the measures to combat pension fraud commencing from early autumn 2021.

The pensions dashboard will follow, with the government planning on consulting on proposed regulations “later this year and lay draft regulations before parliament for debate in 2022,” Opperman said.

“Delivery remains on track for 2023 in line with the plans published by the Pensions Dashboards Programme,” he added.

Last in the queue will be defined benefit scheme funding, which the DWP will consult on later in 2021.

FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert reported in January the new regime for DB funding is likely to be delayed until 2022, as the watchdog is not expected to launch its second consultation on this matter until the second part of 2021.

David Everett, partner at LCP, said: “The long list of powers arising from the Pension Schemes Act will need new laws in a range of areas and the DWP cannot physically move them all forward at the same time.

“The minister’s statement suggests that progress in areas such as climate change, TPR powers, pensions dashboards and CDC schemes are a priority.”

Everett noted that the language used on scheme funding “suggests that reform may be moving into the ‘slow lane’, especially if TPR feels that it needs to see DWP’s regulations before it can publish its own consultation”.

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