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UK pensions regulator launches DB code of practice consultation

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The Pensions Regulator has launched a consultation on a draft code of practice that is set to bring the governance of public service pension schemes into line with those in the private sector.

In its draft form, the code gives public service schemes practical guidance on meeting governance and administration requirements set out in law, the regulator said.

Commenting on the new consultation, Michaela Berry, head of public sector at law firm Sackers, said: “These documents will look very familiar to those involved with private occupational pension schemes and look set to bring public sector schemes on to the same regulatory footing.”

Earlier this year, the regulator’s role was expanded role in the Public Service Pensions Act 2013.

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From April 2015, the authority will set standards of practice for the local government, NHS, teachers, civil service, armed forces, police, fire fighters and judicial pension schemes, allowing them to comply with legal governance and administration requirements.

These schemes represent around 12m members and more than 22,000 employers, the regulator said.

The consultation will run until 17 February 2014, and the code is expected to go before Parliament in the autumn of the same year.

In addition to the code of practice, the regulator said it was also consulting on a draft regulatory strategy.

This will describe how the regulator will educate and enable public service schemes to meet the standards of practice outlined in the code.

It will also cover enforcement action it may take where necessary to make sure the underlying legal requirements are met, the regulator said.

Andrew Warwick-Thompson, executive director for DC, governance and administration at the Pensions Regulator, said the consultation was meant to gather views about whether the standards of conduct and practice expected were appropriate and clear enough for people running and managing public service pension schemes.

Good governance and administration are essential to make sure savers receive the right benefits at the right time, he said.

“It should also improve the efficiency of public service schemes and make them more cost effective for employers, including government departments and local authorities,” said Warwick-Thompson.

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