COMMONS

Pensions Regulator head questioned on Arcadia, BHS and Carillion

25 June 2019

The new head of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), Charles Counsell, is questioned on Arcadia pension deal, lessons from BHS and Carillion for UK regulation framework

Since the collapse of British high street chain BHS, and two years later massive public outsourcer Carillion, both leaving large pension scheme deficits, the Committee has conducted intensive scrutiny of the role and powers of TPR and how it uses them, including in its dedicated  Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and Pensions Regulator inquiry. 

Long-expected new legislation on pensions, including on TPR’s powers, has yet to materialise after various protracted consultations on changes to the corporate and pensions legislative frameworks.

Purpose of the session

Questions include TPR’s ongoing negotiations with Arcadia, Sir Philip Green’s “retail empire” which recently, narrowly passed a vote of major creditors after proposals for funding its estimated £537 million to £727 million pension deficit were cleared by TPR and the PPF, and whether the lessons of BHS have now been learnt by the regulator, particularly in its approach to schemes and sponsors in a precarious position. 

After that creditors’ vote, Chair Frank Field wrote to Charles Counsell with a further series of detailed questions about the cash and assets on offer for plugging the scheme deficit.

The Pension Regulator's fitness

Questioning also includes the wider corporate regulatory framework, in light of the experiences at BHS and Carillion, including the extent to which companies carrying large pension scheme deficits should be able to pay out dividends and bonuses.

There are also questions on new pensions regulatory developments, including the introduction of  an entirely new pension model, for the UK, of CDC pensions, and questions over TPR’s fitness and ability to regulate emerging new types of pension scheme “consolidator” such as master trusts and potentially, superfunds.

The Department rejected the Committee’s suggestion that the incoming chief executive of TPR should be subject to a “pre-appointment hearing”. Instead this session will focus on the new incumbent’s priorities and approach in the role.

Witness

Wednesday 26 June, Room 16, Palace of Westminster

From 09.30am

  • Charles Counsell, Chief Executive, The Pensions Regulator

Further information

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