IRELAND - The Pensions Board has further extended the deadline by which defined benefit (DB) schemes must file funding proposals for approval, following the introduction of new measures for DB schemes announced by the government last month.

Mary Hanafin, the minister for social and family affairs, confirmed in October 2008 she had requested the Pensions Board extend the deadline by six months for those schemes required to file documents by 31 December or 1 January, stating how they would address shortfalls in the minimum funding standards (MFS).

At the time she claimed the temporary reprieve had been agreed following the market turmoil, as this had made it impossible for funds to know what their funding position should be at the end of the year. (See earlier IPE article: Pressured Irish funds given six-month reprieve)

The Pensions Board said this six-month extension will expire at the end of June 2009 for some schemes, but because of changes introduced in the 2009 Social Welfare and Pensions Act in April it has now confirmed schemes will be granted further time to examine the impact of the measures.

These included the introduction of a Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS); changes to wind-up priorities so pensioners do not receive increases until deferred and active members receive benefits; and the ability for schemes to potentially alter accrued benefits. (See earlier IPE articles: Ireland unveils pensions insolvency 'state annuity' scheme and Hanafin criticised for 'rushing' DB changes)

The Pensions Board stated: "In order to allow pension scheme trustees to consider the effect of these changes and to discuss them with their sponsoring employers the Pensions Board has decided to further extend the deadline for DB schemes to submit funding proposals for approval."

The new extension will apply to schemes that have a negative actuarial statement with an effective date of between 31 December 2007 and 31 December 2008 inclusive, or who require a funding proposal because of an actuarial funding certificate effective in the same period.

Eligible schemes will now be able to submit funding proposals "within two years of the effective date of the statement or certificate", although if a scheme has both documents with effective dates between 31 December 2007 and 31 December 2008 then the two year deadline is timed from the earliest date.

However the Pensions Board confirmed that no extension is being granted to the deadline for submitting actuarial funding certificates that are due to be filed with the Board, and warned trustees that fail to make a submission within the deadline "may be liable for prosecution".

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