Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

Show
Find by:
Close

WSID

Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
Showing 1-4 out of 4
Results per page
Results per page 20 | 50 | 100
Expand all statements
Print selected
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion.)
Commons

Pensions: Interim Guidance for “Superfunds”

The Pensions Regulator has today published an interim regulatory regime for Defined Benefit Pension “superfunds”.

A superfund is a privately funded “for profit” consolidation vehicle, which takes over responsibility for Defined Benefit Pension Schemes liabilities from the sponsoring employer. To enter a superfund, sponsoring employers are required to pay a significant, upfront sum to improve the funding level of their scheme, in exchange for discharging their pensions liabilities.

This is an interim regime. The government will continue to develop the permanent regime before legislating, with full and proper parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way.

Operation of the interim regime will be kept under review by the government to ensure that it is properly protecting and advancing the interests of pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund.

The government will continue to develop a permanent regime for superfunds. This is an innovative area and market participants should not assume that the permanent regime will automatically replicate the interim regime. Alongside responses to the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme Consolidation Consultation, the government will be informed by experience gained during the interim regime when considering the features of the permanent regime, including those relating to capital adequacy. The permanent regime may include an alternative set of requirements, including more prudent requirements, compared to the interim regime, but we cannot pre-empt the parliamentary process.

The permanent regime will be designed to protect pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund, including by ensuring that superfunds have the necessary flexibility to continue contributing to a strong pensions ecosystem in which sponsoring companies and scheme trustees have a range of options open to them.

The government believes that superfunds have the potential to improve the likelihood of members getting their benefits in full whilst providing employers with a new, affordable option to manage their legacy pension liabilities. However, if at any point it appears that changes to the interim regime are required in order to protect and advance the interests of scheme members, the government and The Pensions Regulator will take prompt, robust action.

Today’s publication will mean that The Pensions Regulator will have a much firmer basis to take action against a superfund should they deem it a necessary and proportionate step.

The guidance can be accessed at the following address:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/regulatory-guidance/db-superfunds

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS295
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 27 April 2020
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion.)
Commons

Pensions: Response to COVID-19

I am writing to inform the House of the steps this Government is taking to support pension savers, pension schemes, trustees, employers and existing pensioners during the Coronavirus pandemic.

General Pensions Levy

On 31 March 2020, the Government revoked the planned increase in the general pensions levy on occupational and personal pension schemes that was due to take effect on 1 April 2020. The levy recovers funding provided by the DWP in respect of the core activities of The Pensions Ombudsman, and part of the activities of The Pensions Regulator and the Money and Pensions Service. These measures will result in an estimated £4.9m of savings for the private pensions sector.

We will now be focused on reviewing the structure of the levy and engaging with industry, at the appropriate time, on the best way forward on levy funding.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Key to supporting both businesses and pension savers is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which offer an unprecedented package of support for businesses. This scheme has been designed to be as straightforward as possible, ensuring it aligns with and works for most business practices.

Under this scheme, the grants available to employers will support business by covering up to 80 per cent of a furloughed worker’s regular salary, capped at £2,500 per month. Additionally, these grants will also cover employer pension contributions into registered pension schemes on behalf of furloughed employees for any workplace pension scheme. Employers can claim up to the minimum employer pension contribution of 3 per cent of qualifying earnings required under employers’ automatic enrolment duties, even if it’s not an automatic enrolment pension scheme.

By easing the burden of workplace pensions for employers with furloughed staff we are helping them better manage costs during the crisis whilst supporting long-term saving for the future. The measures recognise the importance of protecting the hard won improvements in retirement provision for millions of savers achieved through automatic enrolment.

The CJRS went live on 20th April and claims can be backdated to 1st March where workers have already been furloughed. Information on the scheme can be found here:

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/faqs/

To help support employers, the Pensions Regulator has detailed guidance on its website here:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/covid-19-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-consider/automatic-enrolment-and-pension-contributions-covid-19-guidance-for-employers.

We are continuing to work closely with the pensions industry to explain the detail of the CJRS scheme and to help providers take a pragmatic approach to disruptions to workplace pensions experienced by their clients.

Defined Benefit Schemes

The Government also recognises that these are challenging times for Defined Benefit pension schemes. The current scheme funding regime, overseen by the Pensions Regulator, is sufficiently flexible to cope with the current situation and the Regulator’s guidance published on 27 March sets out specific easements to its regulatory regime in recognition of the difficulties that some schemes and sponsors may have in the context of the current emergency. This can be found at:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/covid-19-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-consider/db-scheme-funding-covid-19-guidance-for-employers

The best possible protection for members of Defined Benefit schemes is a strong profitable employer, and with the existing flexibilities and easements there is no reason why a pension scheme should push an otherwise viable employer into insolvency.

In the event where a sponsoring employer does become insolvent, and the scheme is not well enough funded to secure full benefits, the Pension Protection Fund, which is well equipped to weather market turbulence, will pay members compensation.

The Pensions Regulator has already set out its expectations of trustees of both Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution pension schemes and for employers and administrators, including the key risks they should focus on. The Regulator has confirmed that it will take a proportionate and risk-based approach towards compliance and enforcement decisions during these challenging times, with the aim of supporting employers, providers and savers.

Pension Scams and Transfers

The Government is committed to protecting savers during these unprecedented times and we are working with regulators to identify additional ways to support and safeguard individuals. At present, there is no robust evidence to suggest that savers are making hasty decisions to transfer pension funds or are being targeted by fraudsters. However, we are continuing to work closely with The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Money and Pensions Advisory Service (MaPS) and pension providers to identify any new trends or issues and will take proportionate action if required.

In addition, we have supported the collaborative approach the Pensions Regulator, the FCA and MaPS have taken, communicating to savers to use MaPS, Pensions Wise or the Pensions Advisory Service channels for guidance before making decisions about retirement to protect people against scams. Furthermore, MaPS has produced information and guides to support individuals in making decisions about their money, debt and pensions at this challenging time. This includes reiterating that where appropriate Pension Wise guidance sessions can help an individual to understand their options fully. This can be found at :https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you

Access to State Pension and benefits for people asked to shield themselves

There are approximately 900,000 users of the Post Office Card Account (POca) system for accessing their pensions or benefits. These POca customers ordinarily need to leave the house to access payments at the Post Office. The Department has worked closely with the National Shielding Service which is contacting clinically vulnerable citizens who have been advised by NHS England to shield as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We launched a new service on 10th April through which we have contacted 27,000 citizens who have POca accounts and we considered who may need support to access their Benefit or State Pension payment.

The Department has worked tirelessly to identify those older, vulnerable customers who urgently require help to access their payments. For those needing help, DWP Visiting Officers are able to discuss a number of options available to customers over the phone and we have worked closely with Post Office Ltd to provide contact free cash payments by Royal Mail Special Delivery to support the most vulnerable, with guaranteed next day delivery. This cash service adds to a range of measures we are using to support these individuals shielding at home.

State Pension

In November 2019 the Government announced measures to increase most state pension rates by 3.9% in line with the annual growth in earnings, at the same time as announcing an end to the benefit freeze.

This meant that on 6 April 2020 the full rate of the basic State Pension increased from £129.20 to £134.25 per week and the full rate of the new State Pension increased from £168.60 to £175.20 per week - with working age benefits uprated by inflation. This was the largest increase in state pension in eight years.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS197
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 16 March 2020
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion)
Commons

Automatic Enrolment into Workplace Pensions: Seafarers and Offshore Workers

I am tabling this statement for the benefit of Honourable and Right Honourable Members to bring to their attention secondary legislation to ensure that seafarers and offshore workers continue to benefit from automatic enrolment into workplace pensions.

Our workplace pension reforms are designed to address the fact that millions of people were not saving enough for their retirement, and automatic enrolment (AE) was created to help them with their long-term pension savings. AE has been a great success to date. Over 10 million people have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension and more than 1.6 million employers have complied with their legal duties across the whole economy. It is estimated that 26,000 more workers in the maritime industries were saving into a workplace pension in 2019 as a result of AE.

After the Pensions Act 2008 became law, most employers were brought into AE duties via secondary legislation introduced in 2011 but it was decided to give more time for employers in the maritime industries to allow for fuller consideration of the circumstances of workers in this sector. Seafarers and offshore workers were subsequently brought into AE in July 2012, via regulations and an Order in Council, and following a further public consultation. The 2012 legislation included sunset clauses taking effect on 1st July 2020.

Following a Post Implementation Review (PIR) in 2018 (which can be viewed, here: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1388/pdfs/uksiod_20121388_en.pdf) and, based on the available evidence, the government concluded that AE should continue to apply to all qualifying workers in the maritime industries. In order to deliver on the review’s recommendation, I am today announcing my intention to lay instruments in both Houses. These instruments will remove the sunset clause from the existing legislation so that it continues to provide for workplace pensions for eligible employees in those industries.

In accordance with Section 149 of the Equality Act, I can confirm I have given due regard to the need to: eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Act; advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. In respect of these instruments, I have considered my duties under section 31(3) of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. In my view, it is not appropriate to make provision for a further statutory review in The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

A Regulatory Impact Assessment will be published alongside these instruments, and can be viewed at www.legislation.gov.uk. The Regulatory Policy Committee have validated this impact assessment which has been given a green rating.

A copy of the committee’s opinion will be published on GOV.UK.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS157
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 13 February 2020
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion)
Commons

Automatic Enrolment Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band Review 2020/21

Automatic enrolment into workplace pensions (AE) has been a great success to date with over 10 million people having been automatically enrolled and more than 1.6 million employers meeting their duties. Over 2019/20, working people will save an estimated extra £18.8 billion into workplace pensions as a result of these reforms.

The main focus of this year’s annual review of the AE earnings trigger and qualifying earnings band (the AE thresholds) is to ensure the continued stability of the policy whilst learning from the April 2019 AE contribution rate increase. We also want to ensure that our approach continues to enable individuals, for whom it makes economic sense, to save towards their pensions whilst also ensuring affordability for employers and government. The review has concluded that the earnings trigger will remain at £10,000 and both the lower and upper earnings limits will continue to be aligned to the National Insurance Contribution thresholds.

I intend to lay an Order before Parliament following the February recess which will serve to amend the Pensions Act 2008 so that, for 2020/21:

- £6,240 for the lower limit of the qualifying earnings band;

- The Automatic Enrolment earnings trigger will be maintained at £10,000.

- The upper limit of the qualifying earnings band will remain at £50,000.

The analysis supporting the proposed revised AE thresholds will be published in due course. A copy of this will be placed in the house library and will be available on the www.gov.uk website, following publication.

.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS110
Expand all statements
Print selected
Showing 1-4 out of 4
Results per page
Results per page 20 | 50 | 100