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New powers for the Pensions Regulator: evolution or revolution?
15 November 2021

New powers for the Pensions Regulator: evolution or revolution?

Technical News November 2021.

In the wake of the BHS and Carillion scandals, and the ensuing criticism of the Pensions Regulator’s “tentative and apologetic approach” in those cases, the Government promised to strengthen the Regulator’s powers. The result is the Pension Schemes Act 2021, which received Royal Assent on 11 February.

The Act includes a package of measures aimed at bolstering the Regulator’s powers to enable it to be more proactive. Many of the key provisions came into force on 1 October. There has been a lot of dramatic media coverage of the Act, particularly in relation to the new criminal offences, with commentators concerned about the Regulator becoming too powerful, trustees being thrown in jail and potential trustees being scared away. Addressing these concerns, David Fairs, the Regulator’s Executive Director for Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice, emphasised that the Regulator’s new powers are not going to change the behaviour it investigates, even though they will fundamentally change the options available to the Regulator. David concluded that the new powers are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

In this issue, we summarise the new regulatory framework and consider its impact on trustees and sponsoring employers of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes.

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Last update: 12 November 2021

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