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UK roundup: National Audit Office, TPR, Bank of England, Unite

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  • UK roundup: National Audit Office, TPR, Bank of England, Unite

UK - Regulation of defined contribution (DC) schemes is to be reviewed by the National Audit Office (NAO) in an effort to ascertain whether current regulation by the Pensions Regulator (TPR) addresses the "key" risks.

The government auditor said, with DC schemes "rapidly" gaining in importance as a vehicle for retirement benefits - with the autumn introduction of auto-enrolment expected to increase this trend - any oversights in regulation could lead to further costs for government.

"Any failure to provide effective protection for the benefits of members of these schemes creates risks for individual members and increases future financial liabilities for the taxpayer if this contributes to people having insufficient funds to finance their retirement," the NAO said.

It added: "Our study will focus on whether the regulation of defined contribution schemes by the Pensions Regulator effectively addresses the key risks to scheme members, while taking into account the overlapping responsibilities of the Financial Services Authority with regard to contract-based schemes."

Meanwhile, the Bank of England has appointed Punter Southall as actuarial adviser to its defined benefit (DB) pension fund.

The three-year contract, first put out to tender in August last year, includes the option of being extended for two further three-year periods and will see the consultancy advise on the national bank's non-contributory final salary and career average schemes.

Punter Southall beat five other companies to the role and will be required to conduct the triennial and interim valuations of the fund and offer ad hoc advice to both the bank and the scheme "on matters such as tax, regulation and compliance updates and investment and governance advice", the tender said.

Finally, the UK's largest union Unite has rejected the government's offer for a new NHS pension scheme.

The Heads of Agreement document - drawn up at the end of last year as the Treasury attempted to bring to a close negotiations for all public sector pension funds - spelled out new contribution rates for members, with contributions rising by 2.8 percentage points for some members, as well as a cost ceiling for the new scheme.

The union's general secretary Len McCluskey said its NHS executive had unanimously rejected the government's "pernicious attempt" to make health workers work longer, with retirement ages proposed to increase to 67.

He said: "It is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions."

McCluskey adding that he viewed the "attacks" on public sector pensions as politically motivated and part of an attempt to privatise the health service.

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