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UK roundup: TPR, Nestlé, Unite, Greater Manchester, Enterprise Ventures

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The UK Pensions Regulator (TPR) spent a total of £26.2m (€37m) in 2014-15 on the implementation of auto-enrolment, its annual accounts have shown.

TPR is funded through taxes and a levy on defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) schemes.

Over its last financial year, it reported a net expenditure of £60.1m – offset by £34m in contributions from the levy and £25.6m directly from the government – used for auto-enrolment activities.

The regulator said last year’s planned work was shifted because of the announcement from the UK government in March 2014 about changes to the DC space.

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Work to increase observance of TPR’s six principles for well-run DC schemes, covering 31 quality features, was halted, as the regulator expected “significant structural changes” to the legal framework for schemes as a result of central government actions.

Last week, the regulator warned of further action against DC schemes wilfully ignoring its quality features after a survey showed low take-up among smaller schemes.

In other news, confectionery Nestlé is looking to close its UK career-average DB scheme to future accrual, angering trade unions.

The company said it would enter the statutory 60-day consultation period with its proposal to shift all members to the DC scheme opened in 2010.

Nestlé said the risks of providing a DB scheme had necessitated the shift to an “attractive DC scheme”.

Its proposal is to close the DB scheme to new entrants by 2016 and future accrual for all by 2017.

However, trade unions GMB and Unite said Nestlé was acting in bad faith and refused to rule out strike action.

Elsewhere, the £12.9bn Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) has helped launch a £40m private capital loan fund, to be run by Enterprise Ventures.

The fund will provide loans of up to £1m to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK, regardless of sector.

Enterprise Ventures is a provider of venture capital and loans to small business in England and Wales, and currently has around £200m in assets under management.

The £40m fund has also received backing from Santander, the UK arm of Spain’s Banco Santander.

Enterprise said the loans would be made available to help SMEs make acquisitions, purchase assets and improve operations.  

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