IRELAND - Trustees of defined benefit (DB) schemes have been given an extra five months to file funding proposals and applications to reduce benefits, to enable them to take into account of recent regulatory changes .

The Pensions Board confirmed any pension scheme that had a deadline of between 30 June 2010 and 31 December 2010 for filing a funding proposal and/or a section 50 application - to alter accrued benefits - will now have a five month extension.

However, schemes with a deadline of January 2011 have not been given an extension, and the regulator warned there is no change or extension to the deadlines for submitting actuarial funding certificates.

This means schemes with a deadline of 30 June 2010 will now be able to file the applications for approval by 30 November 2010, while those with a deadline of 31 December 2010 will have the longest expiry date of 31 May 2011.

In a statement, the Pensions Board said: "This extension allows schemes to take into account the recently implemented Occupational Pension Schemes (Preservation of Benefits) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (S.I No. 148 of 2010). This regulation permits schemes to increase the pension scheme's normal retirement age under section 50 of the Pensions Act with immediate and retroactive effect."

It noted the extra five months will also allows trustees and employers time to consider the impact of the proposed changes outlined in the National Pensions Framework published in March.

These include a suggested model for a hybrid pension scheme to help reduce costs; auto-enrolment and additional powers being given to the Pensions Board in relation to investment approaches by schemes. (See earlier IPE article: Irish regulator may gain power over pension scheme investment)

Another key changes is schemes can raise retirement ages with immediate effect.

The Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) said the extension was a "practical move to allow trustees to assess the impact of the proposals in the National Pensions Framework".

Éamon Ó Cuív, the minister for social and family affairs, also claimed: "The additional time allowed for the submission of funding proposals will help secure the viability of DB pension schemes and very importantly, help protect the benefits of pension scheme members."

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