The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) is calling for experts and thought leaders from the pensions sector to apply to become a member of its policy board, which guides and decides on the body’s public policy positions.

There are up to seven places available, due mainly to members coming to the end of their two-year terms, and some changes in employment.

The deadline for applications is Friday, 4 December.

Formed in 2018, the policy board is chaired by Emma Douglas, head of DC at Legal & General Investment Management. It encompasses around 15 participants from across the PLSA’s membership, in particular pension funds from the various sectors – DB, DC, the local government pension scheme, and master trusts – as well as business members such as employee benefits consultants and law firms.

The board’s goal is to shape the policy agenda for all aspects of retirement income.

Douglas said: “The policy board is an important and influential body which plays a crucial role in setting the PLSA’s policy agenda, ensuring the PLSA is tackling the issues that matter most to our members and are in savers’ interests.

“It is vital that we recruit highly skilled people from a range of pension backgrounds to ensure the PLSA fulfils its role as the voice of the pensions industry.”

Information about the criteria for selection and how to apply can be found on the PLSA website.

Coronavirus ‘has had little impact on pension saving’ – survey

The People’s Pension has said a new survey indicates the majority (82%) of UK adults who have a pension do not appear to have made any changes to their pension despite more than four in 10 (45%) having been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way.

According to the survey, which was commissioned by the DC master trust, only 3% of those questioned who have a pension said they had stopped their contributions altogether during the past seven months, while just 2% said they had withdrawn money from their pension.

The survey, which was of 2,084 adults and carried out online in mid-October, also showed that:

  • 2% have cut back pension contributions since the UK went into lockdown in March 2020;
  • A further 2% had increased their contributions;
  • Approximately one in seven (14%) have checked the value of their pensions savings in the past seven months;
  • The pandemic had prompted 1% to delay their retirement plans, while 1% of all UK adults with a pension retired earlier than they had anticipated.

Phil Brown, director of policy at The People’s Pension, said: “Despite the financial hardship that coronavirus has caused, this national survey confirms what our data has shown us throughout; that it has had very little impact on pension saving.

“Even though there were early fears to the contrary, workplace pension saving through automatic enrolment has held up very well during 2020, confirming its status as one of the most successful government policies of the 21st century.”

IFS revises university pension cost estimate

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has doubled to £8bn its central estimate of the additional cost to universities of meeting existing pension promises given new figures published by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

Absent favourable movements in financial markets, the think tank said, universities could only reduce this by taking on more risk, making further reductions in the pensions provided by the scheme, big rises in employees’ contributions, or some combination of these measures.

Ben Waltmann, research economist at IFS and a co-author of a new report on the education sector, said: “In the summer, the scale of financial uncertainty facing universities as a result of the pandemic led many – including ourselves – to speculate about the potential need for a bailout. In the end, student numbers have held up better than expected, but universities still face financial risks from no-shows or higher-than-usual dropouts, as well as reductions in other income streams.

“By far the biggest source of risk now appears to be the large deficit on the main university pension scheme, which has increased from £3.6bn in March 2018 to a monumental £21.5bn in August 2020 according to the latest preliminary estimate. With contributions already at more than 30% of earnings, it is hard to see how a deficit on this scale, if confirmed, could be evened out without further cuts in the generosity of the scheme.”

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