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30 October 2020

29: Simpler annual benefits statements to become mandatory

The Government has published a response to its 2019 consultation on how to deliver standardised, simpler and shorter annual pension benefits statements. It confirms legislation will be introduced requiring all DC auto-enrolment schemes to use a two-page mandatory statement template. This will be extended to other schemes after further consultation.

Key points to note from the Government’s response include:

  • consultation will take place later this year on draft regulations setting out the mandated approach for DC schemes used for auto-enrolment. The Government will work with the pensions industry on the detailed design;
  • statements will be required to draw members’ attention to three key pieces of information:
    • how much money is in their pension pot;
    • how much there could be at retirement; and
    • what could be done to increase their pension at retirement.
  • the Government proposes to include a line on costs and charges in the new template with a clear signpost to the more detailed information that schemes are already required to provide elsewhere;
  • statements will also be required to signpost information on the scheme’s investment strategy, including whether the member’s pension is invested individually or on a pooled basis, and with due regard to Environmental Social and Governance factors including climate change;
  • the impact of these initial measures will be evaluated to inform a consultation on how a similar approach can be applied to all remaining schemes, although the Government recognises that this could be more of a challenge for DB schemes; and
  • the Government would like to work with the pensions industry to improve engagement by introducing a ‘statement season’ when all workplace pension statements would be sent to members. This would be supported by a professional communications campaign to help generate a national conversation around pension saving.

The proposals are driven partly by the fact that many people will have a number of pension pots from different jobs over their lifetime. They aim to help savers compare statements and providers more easily and complement the move towards pension dashboards and the provision of digital statements.

Legislating to impose the changes is also indicative of the increasingly onerous and costly governance obligations on DC schemes as part of the Government’s continued encouragement of DC schemes towards consolidation.

Our experienced pensions team can help with all aspects of DC governance as well as DC scheme closure and consolidation.

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