The new Pensions Bill: Fit for a Queen

Every year The Queen’s Speech sets out the Government’s proposals for the coming parliamentary year. As a result of the forthcoming EU referendum, the Queen’s Speech was unusually light on content; however, the new Pensions Bill was unveiled and will mean that millions of retirement savers will be better protected and have greater access to their pension funds.

In October 2012, employers began enrolling their staff in to auto-enrolment pension schemes and by February 2018, all companies will have had to enrol their employees into such a scheme. Nevertheless, concerns had arisen that workers who pay into certain schemes managed by some ‘master trusts’ could be at risk of losing their money if the scheme they were contributing in to collapsed.

Master Trusts are multi-employer occupational pension schemes which means they set up and administer a scheme on behalf of several companies at the same time. Setting up an individual pension scheme can be expensive, so many firms use master trust providers instead.

The new Pensions Bill will provide stricter control of these schemes by the Pensions Regulator (TPR) ensuring that master trusts follow the new standards. At present, only nine master trust schemes are listed on TPR’s website as qualifying for their quality assurance mark.

The Pensions Regulator has welcomed the new bill. Lesley Titcomb, TPR’s chief executive said: “We have voiced concerns for some time about the need for stronger legislative standards for master trusts and have worked with government and other regulators to improve levels of protection for members.

“We have been calling for a significantly higher bar regarding authorisation and supervision, and we are pleased that today’s announcement proposes to give us the power to implement these safeguards”

The Government is also introducing legislation to help make it easier for people who wish to transfer or withdraw money from their pension pots by capping the early exit fees and penalties they currently face.  It is not known at what level they will be capped but more information will be available in due course.

And finally, a new single guidance body is also being set up to help people with retirement advice. It will bring together the Pensions Advisory Service, Pension Wise and the Money Advice Service (MAS)

These are welcome developments, but when it comes to positive planning for your retirement, ‘guidance’ is no substitute for independent advice from trained and qualified pensions professionals.

As Chartered Financial Planners, Innes Reid independent financial advisors hold the G60 advanced pension qualification and are registered as an approved pension transfer specialist with the FCA.

For advice on your existing arrangements, and all your retirement options, contact Innes Reid on 01244 347583 or email info@innesreid.co.uk for a free, initial consultation – we are available at times to suit you.

 

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The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an agency for arbitrating of unresolved complaints
between regulated firms and their clients. Further details of the FOS can be found on its website:
www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk