Bulletins | March 17, 2016

From the Editor’s fountain pen…

Welcome to the March 2016 edition of our pensions Bulletin. Happy Easter!

Competitive edge

There was quite a low (aka zero!) take-up for the competition we set in January’s Bulletin: perhaps it was just too obtuse.  But the answer, should anyone still be interested, is that four of the sub-headings in my FRS102 article were pieces of prose written by dead poets (William Shakespeare (twice), David Bowie and Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister of Mötörhead fame), whereas the fifth was from a film about Dead Poets (and their school Society) whose author, by contrast, is still with us.

ISA tonic regression

Freed from the rigours of inventing competitions that nobody enters, and also because it happened to be the Budget, I watched television yesterday for the first time in over a month.  And it certainly seems to me (and in fact the entire team here at WB) that someone in Downing Street has been undertaking numerical analysis in extremis.  How else, we wonder, could Osborne & Co have alighted at what could be seen as the start of the death knell for pensions saving in the UK, without a number-cruncher extraordinaire behind the scenes somewhere.

True, a Lifetime ISA (save up to £4,000 per annum, get a 25% Government bonus on whatever you put in, and access it all tax-free either to buy your first home or when you hit middle age at 60) looks like an intriguing – and attractive! – product.  But how many people will be so tempted by this particular pot of gold that they will opt out of their auto-enrolment scheme in order to free-up enough spare cash to save into their “Lifetime ISA”??

After all the hype about reform of the pensions tax relief regime, “George Didn’t Do That“; but he did do something else with a potentially similar outcome which could well be, for the pensions industry at least, isotonic indeed.

Sounds FAMiliaR…?

And so TPAS, the Money Advice Service and “Pension Wise” are to be replaced: statutory bodies that somebody thinks aren’t doing their job well enough, hence they have to go.  What will take their place, we wonder?  Maybe another entity (perhaps spawned by the newly-announced Help To Save initiative) that is slightly skewed towards stashing the cash for “specific [and no doubt extremely exciting] life events” rather than the boring old one we all used to know and love, retirement.  Maybe “retirement” is now just too vague even to count as an official concept, and will be excised from our OEDs at the earliest opportunity.

Team news

Moving swiftly on to much more mundane matters, Editor Weber has been skiing again but you didn’t really want to know that.  Far more important is the arrival of the new recruit to our team, whose literary talents (and ability to write nice, short articles) now Grace these pages for the first time of many.  Welcome on board, and we look forward to much more of the same in due course.

In this edition

Staying with the present, in this edition we look in detail at the following:

  • how a 95-year-old pensioner started to tyre of his former employer’s refusal to pay him his pension, and Muller-ed them in front of the Pensions Ombudsman;
  • Brexit: the legacy of Article 119, and the impending Clash of views that will no doubt come to a head on 23 June;
  • a real headache for trustee boards, courtesy of the PPF;
  • licence to liberate: whether a recent High Court decision will set loose all of those scorpions that the Pensions Regulator has been fighting so hard to keep behind bars; and
  • another unusual, and unusually-flexible, means of putting right drafting errors, courtesy again of the High Court.

In addition to which, no Bulletin would be complete without Clive’s Ready Reckoner.  Just feast your eyes on what’s been happening (and on what we can expect over the coming months) and any lingering winter blues will vanish in an instant!

Until the summer, our very best wishes…