UK - Hewitt Associates has warned of a new wave of benefit reviews, as pension schemes come to terms with regulations on pension tax relief and the switch to the consumer price index (CPI).

The consultancy also said it expected the public sector pensions review, led by former work and pensions minister John Hutton, to have a knock-on effect for many private sector employees.

James Patten, who works in benefit design at Hewitt, said the above factors came in addition to ongoing issues surrounding funding and tighter risk controls for the UK's pension schemes and that organisations would now have to contend with these additional pressures.

"In such a fast-changing market, those organisations that have not recently conducted a pension benefit review may now feel it appropriate to consider how their benefits compare with those of their competitors," he said.

"On [retail price index] RPI to CPI, the question of how accrued benefits will increase before retirement is as yet unclear, so this will not be an easy task."

The Association of Consulting Actuaries previously found that 41% of companies expected to reduce benefits in existing schemes as a result of auto-enrolment, set to begin in 2012, while the National Association of Pension Funds previously warned of a temptation for employers to enrol as many people as possible into a basic scheme, resulting in a two-tier workforce.

Meanwhile, Barnett Waddingham has argued that any "diminution of service" through the potential closure of the Pension Advisory Service (TPAS) should be avoided ahead of the introduction of auto enrolment.

Malcolm McLean, a consultant at the company, said that while disputes previously handled by TPAS could be handled by the Pensions Ombudsman, its "hitherto unchallenged impartial information and guidance function" would still be needed.

He said: "With auto-enrolment and NEST on the horizon, this is going to be a critical period for pension planning and advice, and any diminution of the service available should be avoided at all costs."