UK - The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published a guide to better administration in an effort to increase the standards across smaller pension funds in the UK.

The regulator said one of its key missions had been to raise trustees' awareness of their  duties and how the responsibility for administration lies with the trustee board, regardless of if the responsibility is delegated to a third party or not.

June Mulroy, executive director for DC, governance and administration warned that poor administration was neither victimless, nor harmless.

"It can have a real impact on members. Inaccurate records might lead to people getting the wrong level of pension," she said.

"The cost to the scheme of correcting data issues, or dealing with complaints, can also eat away at members' retirement pots."

According to the latest data collected by TPR, 100% of new data will be accurately completed by the end of next year, with almost all legacy data accounted for as well.

However, only 47% of administraton providers had agreed plans with trustees to check the data held, while only 39% of those aware of TPR's record-keeping guidance had an in-depth knowledge of what was expected of them.

The guide, 'Five simple steps for trustees to improve scheme administration', can be accessed from the Pensions Regulator's website.

Meanwhile, Unilever is to close its final salary pension scheme due to the "unaffordable" cost of the defined benefit (DB) scheme in favour of a career average scheme.

The £5.5bn (€6.2bn)  Unilever UK Pension Fund (UUKPF), which was closed to new members at the end of 2007, was replaced with a career-average plan.

Amanda Sourry, Unilever UK & Ireland chairman, argued that the company was committed to being a sustainable company in every aspect and that its pension arrangements could not be exempt from that. 

"The changes have been proposed to help tackle the increasingly unaffordable and unsustainable costs associated with Unilever's UK pension fund."

She added: "Like many other companies which have already taken similar action, we must face up to this difficult issue now so we can continue to work to ensure Unilever remains a winning and competitive business in the UK."

The DB scheme will be closed to new accrual from the beginning of 2012, with all accrued rights protected, in addition to retaining a final salary link of increases up to 3% a year.

To replace the closed scheme, a new career-average arrangement would be launched, with a cap on salaries above £41,000. For those earning above the threshold, a defined contribution fund would be offered.

At the end of March 2009, UUKPF reported a funding shortfall of £1.8bn, with £4.2bn in assets.