On 16 June, the Regulator updated its guidance on reporting duties and enforcement activity to clarify which easements will continue to apply until 30 September 2020 and which reporting requirements will resume as normal from 1 July 2020. The changes were also confirmed in a press release.
From 1 July, reporting requirements will resume as normal, in relation to:
- suspended deficit repair contributions – trustees will need to submit a revised recovery plan or report of missed contributions
- late valuations and recovery plans not being agreed
- delays in issuing cash equivalent transfer quotations and making payments,
- a failure to prepare audited accounts, and
- master trusts.
In relation to late payment reporting, pension providers will continue to have 150 days to report late payments of contributions (other than deficit repair contributions), where the Regulator would normally require reports of late payments to be made within 90 days. It is unclear if this easement only applies to providers of DC workplace pension schemes or if it extends to trustees of DC occupational pension schemes as well. In any event, the Regulator has said it will review this easement again at the end of September.
- Chair’s statements – The updated guidance confirms that the Regulator will not be reviewing any chair’s statements (including in relation to master trusts) until after 30 September 2020. Statements submitted prior to this date will be returned unread. However, this should not be taken as an indication that the statement meets all of the applicable statutory requirements. It is unclear whether Chair’s statements that are returned unread will be reviewed after 30 September or not. Trustees are reminded of the need to submit their Chair’s statement on time as the legislation does not give the Regulator any discretion to waive fines for late submission.
- Late audited accounts – The Regulator has said it will take a “pragmatic approach” to late preparation of audited accounts and will not be taking enforcement action on late accounts signed off by 30 September 2020.
- Investment governance – The Regulator does not anticipate taking regulatory action so long as a review of a scheme’s statement of investment principles (or statement in relation to any default arrangement) is not delayed beyond 30 September 2020. The long-stop date was previously 30 June.
- Annual benefit statements – In the Regulator’s press release, it confirmed that it would continue to take a “pragmatic approach” accepting that the “impact of COVID-19 means schemes need additional time to issue these to members”.
- Relationship-managed schemes – For schemes in relationship-managed supervision, the Regulator has reiterated that it will be focusing more on near-term risks rather than the standard activities in its supervisory cycle and they will be speaking to relationship-managed schemes to better understand their position and the risks and issues that have arisen.
Pension transfers and scams
Trustees are reminded of the need to continue to issue the new template warning letter to all members requesting a CETV quote and to monitor requests for concerning patterns. Trustees who identify unusual or concerning patterns should contact the FCA on DBTransferSchemeInformation@fca.org.uk.
Services for vulnerable members
Separately, the Regulator has added information on maintaining services for vulnerable members in its Scheme administration: COVID-19 guidance for trustees and public service. In particular, they are reminded of the need to maintain services for those who are not online and potentially vulnerable through the safe and secure processing of post and by providing a telephone service for critical queries.
In addition, where services are disrupted administrators should maintain a record of which processes, functions or projects are being affected, and keep a log of non-priority queries and actions to deal with when capacity allows.