UK - The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has initiated calls for a new joint working group, to consider the implementation issues around the second batch of regulations relating to the UK's 2012 pension reforms.
In its submission to the DWP's consultation on 'Workplace Pension Reform - Completing the Picture', the NAPF argued the draft rules address some of the more "contentious issues", such as self-certification, registration and staging dates for auto-enrolment. (See earlier IPE articles: WPP default fund charges 'should have stakeholder cap' and DB schemes given 3-yr auto-enrolment deferment)
However, the NAPF also said workshops with stakeholders to discuss how the proposed regulations will work in the real world identified a "range of practical problems" that are not addressed by the "sometimes abstract concepts in these regulations".
These included how to deal with lost opt-out forms and 'disappeared' members, to questions about The Pensions Regulator's compliance processes. In addition, the organisation said that between now and 2016 - when the reforms are fully implemented - many of the regulations will need to be revised in light of experience and changed circumstances.
Nigel Peaple, director of policy at the NAPF, said: "This is why we have called on the government to put in place a joint employer, industry, Pensions Regulator and DWP working group to look at how the reforms can be implemented successfully by employers and pension schemes."
This would include consideration of implementation issues, and the development of guidance for employers and schemes.
At the same time, the organisation stated in its submission that it is "deeply concerned that the DWP appears to be putting forward proposals that reduce flexibility, restrict postponement and reject the industry group's work on certification. We assume this is from fear that a small number of employers may try to abuse these processes. However, we believe the government should start from the assumption that the vast majority of employers who already offer a good pension will do their utmost to comply with the new requirements".
Peaple added: "The NAPF continues to support the 2012 pension reforms. But we are concerned that the government does not understand how employers, whether large or small, operate in practice. Unless there is more flexibility and less prescription in the second batch of regulations, the risk of undermining existing good workplace pension schemes will remain."
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