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UK regulator's role extended - O'Brien

UK - Mike O'Brien, UK minister for pension reform, has announced the role of the UK pension regulator (TPR) will be extended for the launch of the personal accounts pension scheme in 2012.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the TPR will also monitor the new occupational pensions saving pot, to which people will automatically enrol if they earn £5,000 (€6,998) or over.

"As the regulator for all work-based pension schemes, TPR will monitor personal accounts as a whole, as well as ensuring employers meet their obligation to automatically enrol staff into a good workplace pension scheme," DWP said in a statement yesterday.

O'Brien commented it is his belief TPR, established following the Pensions Act 2004, is "well-placed" to take on the additional responsibility.

However, not everyone is so confident in TPR: in an interview with British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph this weekend, Edmund Truell, founder of the pension buyout firm Pension Corporation, openly criticised the regulator.

Pension Corporation's CILP is currently in the process of buying telecoms firm Telent, for what is essentially a shell supporting the old General Electric Corporation pension fund.

The firm says the deal had been held up by the regulator's decision to appoint three independent trustees to the scheme following fears CILP would dip into the Telent pension fund's £500m escrow account.

"Trustees are reluctant to make any decision of weight in a hurry and the regulator has demonstrated a similar reluctance to get on with things. The process could span well over a year," Truell said in the interview.

David Norgrove, chairman at The Pension Regulator, commented on the government's latest move: "We welcome the confidence in us shown by choosing us to undertake this taks, which will be central to the success of personal accounts."

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