|Disclosure time limits to be adjusted for auto-enrolment
by Ian Neale and Steve Rideout 27/04/2012
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The DWP has launched a consultation seeking views on minor amendments to the disclosure of information regulations for occupational pension schemes, in order to 'dovetail' them with automatic enrolment provisions to be introduced from October 2012.
The draft Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 will require new members subject to automatic enrolment to be provided with basic scheme information within one month of the date the pension scheme receives jobholder information* from the employer.
*Reg 3 of the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/772)
In addition, the basic information in future will have to state how persons eligible to be members of the scheme are admitted to it, including whether they are subject to automatic enrolment, or can join on their own application. This replaces the existing description in para 2 of Sch 1, so as to cover the full range of scenarios by which workers may join or be enrolled.
The consultation closes on 22 May 2012 with the final regs due to be in force from 1 October 2012.
Of rather greater interest in this condoc is the re-stated intention to finally consolidate the disclosure regime across occupational, personal and stakeholder schemes. The DWP has been talking about this for at least the past three years (see Aries article), but it has repeatedly been pushed onto the backburner.
Currently, there are three sets of regulations:
The Personal Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1987 (SI 1987/1110), which have been amended already at least 13 times;
The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1655) which have been amended already at least 20 times; and
The Stakeholder Pension Schemes Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1403).
The most recent setback to the timetable for consolidation has been the Red Tape Challenge which means consolidated regs won't now appear before 2013. Unfortunately, the issue of disclosure has a history of fraternising with the 'too difficult' tray.
Some might argue for a cultural volte face, so that instead of presuming scheme members had no entitlement to any information about their pension savings except what the scheme was required by regulations to disclose, the law should instead prescribe simply what it is reasonable for the trustees to keep private. Advocates of principles-based legislation in the past seems to have been squashed by fear of regulators with a different interpretation. Perhaps we also need less regulation and micromanagement, even though to suggest that today is rowing against the tide.