The UK’s Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has launched a taskforce to tackle the problems faced by defined benefit (DB) pension schemes and come up with solutions and recommendations for the UK government. 

The former deputy chair of the Bank of England’s working group on procyclicality by pension funds and insurance companies will chair the taskforce.

It counts Stephen Soper, the former head of DB and interim chief executive of the UK pensions regulator, among its seven other members.

Soper has been senior pensions adviser at PwC since September.

Joanne Segars, chief executive of the PLSA, announced the launch of the initiative at the association’s investment conference in Edinburgh today.

“The difficulties facing defined benefit schemes are much talked about, and they often seem too complex or enormous to address – but those problems aren’t going away any time soon,” she said.

The taskforce will “tease out” the detail of the challenges facing DB schemes and set out possible solutions, she added. 

“Some of those solutions may be radical, but, if we work together, I am confident we can find the right answers.” 

The taskforce, which comprises industry experts and academics, will seek views and evidence from schemes of all sizes, as well as sponsors, regulators, government and intermediaries.

It intends to report its initial findings in the summer and has been tasked to come up with recommendations for the UK government by October, with a full report to be published at the PLSA’s annual conference that month.

Ashok Gupta, chair of the new taskforce, said it would aim “to cut through the Gordian Knot” facing UK pension schemes. 

“There is broad consensus the pensions sector should provide long-term sustainable outcomes for members and act as a powerful engine of growth to the economy,” he said. 

“It is clear however, that for some time pension schemes have been grappling with a wide range of challenges, including scheme funding, changing regulatory requirements and an uncertain macro-economic environment.

“These have hampered their ability to deliver both commonly agreed objectives.” 

The other members of the taskforce are:

  • Duncan Buchanan, partner, Hogan Lovells and president, Society of Pensions Professionals
  • Frank Johnson, PLSA DB Council and former managing director of investments at RPMI Railpen
  • Jackie Peel, PLSA DB Council
  • Paul Trickett, chairman of trustees of the Legal and General Mastertrust and Zurich UK pension scheme
  • Kevin Wesbroom, senior partner, Aon Hewitt
  • Lesley Williams, PLSA chair