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.

Here is a selection from our most recent headlines. You can get the fuller details by sending us an email - just click here to fire one off.

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has published a factsheet setting out its view that TPO is a 'competent court' for the purpose of section 91(6) of the Pensions Act 1995 (PA 1995), when making Determinations for recoupment in overpayment cases.

This comes in the wake of the High Court judgement in the Burgess v BIC UK Ltd case. Mr Justice Arnold stated his view (in paragraph 168) that "a determination by the Pensions Ombudsman would not itself

constitute "an order of a competent court", because the Ombudsman is not a court ". That case centred on the recovery of pension overpayments by the exercise, by 'competent courts', of the equitable right of recoupment.

The factsheet provides a non-exhaustive list of the reasons why TPO considers he is a competent court for statutory purposes:

A Pensions Ombudsman Determination

brings a dispute to an end

TPO has jurisdiction to investigate complaints or disputes about overpayments under s.146 and determine them in accordance with s.151 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (PSA 1993).

The Determination concludes the dispute, including also for the purposes of section 91(6) of the PA 1995. Under s.151(3) of the PSA 1993, the Determination by . . .

18 Apr 2019  

Chairing the meeting, Guy Hooper introduced himself as the new Head of Pension Schemes Services; previously he headed HMRC's Tax Administration policy team. Guy replaces Jo Gibson, who has moved to the DWP's Pensions Policy Team.

Anne Smith, Head of the Pensions Policy Team, gave a brief report. EU exit was still taking precedence, but they had still been very busy even though only two new pieces of legislation had been made (SIs

2019/773 and 774, concerned with repayment of overseas transfer charges). Aries reported the discrepancy in the date in force between the Regs (25 April) and the accompany Explanatory Memorandum which advised 24 April.

The Project Team's activity has been much more visible of late. Daniela Paul reported that (as is almost normal with IT projects) Phase 1 of the Managing Pension Schemes service (registering a pension scheme and amending Scheme

Administrator details) had not been completed on time at the end of March. Testing might be finished by the time the next Pension Schemes Newsletter comes out around the end of this month.

The real meat will come in Phase 2: migrating schemes from Pension Schemes Online (PSO) and implementing key functions including AFT and Event Reporting and pension scheme . . .

18 Apr 2019  

It's official, the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS) has launched and has wasted no time calling for "collective action to improve the UK's financial wellbeing".

The MAPS, sponsored by the DWP, aims to tackle 'complex financial wellbeing challenges' via a joined-up service ranging from debt help to money and pensions guidance. The MAPS brings together the 'legacy brands' of the Money Advice Service, Pension Wise and The Pensions

Advisory Service.

It is undertaking a UK-wide programme of 'listening events' between April and June 2019. In preparation it has published a 92-page 'Listening Document' and a separate 19-page Executive Summary for event attendees, which "gives you a quick and visual way into the full Listening Document, with links to its greater detail."

This three-month 'listening phase' is an opportunity to feed in 'hopes, aspirations

and ambitions' as the MAPS starts to develop its National Strategy and three-year corporate plan (to be launched by the end of November 2019). The MAPS will ask questions such as: what should be its top priorities and how it could maximise funding in the sector.

Its Business Plan 2019/20 has already been published; it sets out five priorities: . . .

17 Apr 2019  

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the body which sets the UK Corporate Governance and Stewardship Codes and UK standards for accounting and actuarial work, and enforces audit quality, has set out its priorities for the year 2019/20 and the resources it will need.

The Plan and Budget notes that this will be a year of transition for the FRC: the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is currently consulting on proposals to change the

FRC's governance powers and transition to a new statutory regulator: the Audit Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). The FRC has separately committed to the Government's direction of travel here.

The FRC's Articles of Association will be amended to specify that, pending the creation of the new authority, the Secretary of State will make all new appointments to the FRC's Board. There will also be other immediate changes

ahead of the proposed establishment of ARGA:

  • Expanding work on the quality of that part of an audit conducted overseas.
  • Extending the scope of reviews of corporate reports to cover the whole annual report.
  • Broadening work on oversight of the accountancy profession. . . .

17 Apr 2019  

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has published its Strategic Plan for 2019 to 2022 (web link). It confirms the following strategic priorities:

  • Sustainable funding in volatile times: more prudence and maintaining the present funding strategy over the next three years with a levy estimate of £500m for 2019/20. The PPF views this as the price of PPF protection that allows employers sponsoring defined benefit (DB)

schemes to operate with significant deficits. Good value then! It will also enhance its responsible investment framework, integrating environmental, social and governance risks. In its drive to work with 'troubled schemes', the PPF will publish contingency planning guidance.

  • Built for innovation: the PPF will consider including further activities in the pursuit of bringing member services, and much of investment management, in-house. It will

transform its web presence and develop technology to run its business digitally. Digital services will be 'device agnostic' and staff will be able to use their own devices. Finally, it wants to improve how it presents and tailors levy consultation information.

  • Brilliant service for our members and schemes: the PPF's multi-channel model will make it easy . . .

16 Apr 2019