Trustee code of practice ignored, claims OPA

UK - Companies will not fulfil the Pensions Regulator's Code of Practice on principles of proportionality, fairness and transparency in trustee nomination in time for the October deadline, the Occupational Pensioners' Alliance (OPA) has claimed.

The code was issued following the 2004 Pensions Act, which stipulates all active and pensioner members, or organisations which adequately represent them, must be involved in the nomination of trustees.

It requires companies to ensure at least one-third of the total number of trustees are member-nominated.

But "of the 31 schemes that were surveyed by the OPA, only 19 have the arrangements in place to fulfil the Code of Practice," the organisation said in a statement.

The OPA is particularly concerned the Pensions Regulator will allow a further delay in adequate member representation on trustee boards.

"Despite pension schemes having an overwhelming majority of non-active members, including 45% of members being retired, pensioner members only make up 11% of trustees," noted Roger Turner, executive officer of the OPA.

He explained this leads to situations in which surpluses in pension schemes are used to grant contribution holidays to active members without considering improved benefits for pensioner members.

"This statistic is of serious concern, as trustees should act in the interests of all members," Turner added.

"It is vital that the Regulator does not allow employees to further misrepresent their pension scheme members," he concluded.

Formed in 2003 from a merger of the Confederation of Occupational Pensioners' Associations (COPAS) and the Alliance of Occupational Pensioners (AoP), the OPA now represents over one million occupational pensioners.

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