From the Editor’s mountain hut…

27 / 01 / 2016

Welcome to the January 2016 edition of our Pensions Bulletin. Happy New Year!

Team news

You will undoubtedly be very pleased to hear that the 3 members of our team who took part in the recent WB ski trip to the Austrian resort of Mayrhofen each made it back to the office in one piece, suffering no untoward injuries and with only minor remnants of après-ski induced shandy consumption.  Normal service is hereby resumed!  In fact, your Editor (who also led said trip) somehow managed to bring back the same 36 people that he took out to the slopes – no mean feat, particularly as free-thinking lawyers tend to do exactly the opposite when instructed to “follow me, come what may”.

The other exciting news is that our team is expanding.  Next month sees us joined by a young lady by the name of Grace Ho, who at the time of writing has just completed her training contract with another City firm and will be specialising at WB in both pensions and employee benefits work.  The practice goes from strength to strength and it is testament to this that we are able to attract the attention of those working at much larger firms.  We very much look forward to Grace joining us, and to introducing her to you in due course.

“George, Don’t Do That!”

Mr Osborne certainly seems to have taken heed, and has been somewhat quiet of late.  At least as regards pensions.  But don’t expect too much respite, however – the full Budget is less than a couple of months away, and there is (if nothing else) the prospect of the Government’s position on the suggested pensions tax relief overhaul to look forward to.  To think that we might know where HMG is heading on this issue while snow still covers the Alpine meadows is exciting and daunting in equal measure.

In this edition

Returning to the present, in this edition we look in detail at the following:

  • how the Pensions Ombudsman “laid down the law” to the Boys In Blue;
  • changes being made by Financial Reporting Standard 102, which will impact (potentially quite significantly) on the way in which unlisted corporate groups account for their DB pension deficits;
  • the PPF’s levy determination for the 2016-17 levy year, the first since the switch from Dun & Bradstreet to Experian, and how it is aiming for stability in the face of change;
  • the latest can of worms from everyone’s best friend the DWP, who seem quite determined to keep pensions professionals in a job for as long as possible;
  • the proposals for a secondary annuity market that were first announced by the Chancellor nearly 12 months ago;
  • and, last but not least, how a multi-million pound error caused by poor drafting when consolidating a trust deed and rules was put right by the Court in a rather novel way.

And please don’t forget…

  • to diarise the date, most likely to be some time in late March, on which your three-month notice period under section 251 Pensions Act 2004 expires, after which (and by 5 April 2016 latest) the resolution itself must be passed by trustees; and
  • to register, again by April 2016, for the continued use of HMRC’s GMP reconciliation service, else your ability to liaise with them about inconsistencies between your scheme’s and HMRC’s own contracting-out data will disappear in a puff of smoke.

That’s it for now – see you again at Easter!

!! STOP PRESS !!

26 January 2016 – DWP launches consultation exercise on whether LLPs need to auto-enrol their members into workplace pension arrangements – essentially, those who are genuine partners in a limited liability partnership (and not salaried members) can, if the LLP wishes, be excluded from its auto-enrolment duties – but interestingly, they do not have to be – click here for more details…