ESG considerations

A trustee guide

We have already seen the law in this area change to recognise the impact that environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors can have on scheme investments and sponsor covenants, as well as savers' preferences. For example, trustees must produce a statement of investment principles (SIP) setting out their policies on financially material ESG considerations and stewardship. A new requirement to publish an implementation statement describing trustees' voting behaviour has also come into force.

Further developments in this area are on the horizon. In particular, the Pension Schemes Bill currently passing through Parliament and a DWP consultation suggest there will be additional disclosure and governance obligations for at least some schemes. If nothing else, the proposals in the pipeline show this area is being considered as increasingly important.

Pension scheme trustees need to ensure they fully understand their obligations in respect of ESG and are prepared for this to become a priority issue for schemes; both from a legal and member perspective.

For more information on Stephenson Harwood’s ESG expertise please click here to visit the ESG hub.

Insights

The Pensions Regulator's consultation on a new code for Contribution Notices

Writing for the Financial Times' Pensions Expert, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl discusses the Pensions Regulator's consultation on a new code for Contribution Notices.

DWP response to consultation on draft regulations strengthening TPR’s powers

Pensions analysis: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published its response to its consultation on the proposed drafting of two regulations which would strengthen the powers of the Pensions Regulator (TPR) to issue contribution notices and gather information, following changes introduced by the Pension Schemes Act 2021. Chris Edwards-Earl discusses the response.

TPR seeks views on how it will apply new Contribution Notice tests

Pensions analysis: The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a consultation on changes to its Code of Practice 12 following the introduction, by the Pension Schemes Act 2021 (PSA 2021), of new tests in relation to its Contribution Notice (CN) power. Stephen Richards and Chris Edwards-Earl comment on TPR’s consultation.

Why standstill agreements matter for pensions schemes

In a piece first published by Professional Pensions, senior associate Chris Edwards-Earl and partner Helena Berman look at the judgment in Kingsley Napley LLP v Harris & Another.

DWP’s consultation on regulations under PSA 2021 strengthening TPR’s powers

Chris Edwards-Earl comments that under the recently enacted Pension Schemes Act 2021 (PSA 2021), the powers of the Pensions Regulator (TPR) were clarified and expanded.

In conversation: Transfer to master trust

This is an important conversation for anyone involved with a workplace DC pension scheme. The government has proposed some draft regulations which are due to come into effect on 5 October 2021. These are likely to force those running workplace trust-based DC schemes to transfer those schemes to a master trust. 

Occupational DC schemes - are you ready?

From October 2021, it is proposed that new and game-changing obligations for those involved in occupational defined contribution (DC) schemes will come into force. These will require certain schemes to compare their value for members against the value offered by large commercial DC schemes and, ultimately, result in increased consolidation of schemes in this area.

The Pension Schemes Bill - Just the beginning?

It was widely anticipated in the pensions industry that the Pension Schemes Bill (the Bill) would receive Royal Assent at the end of 2020. However, it is perhaps unsurprising it did not get over the line with much of the Government's time taken up with Brexit and Covid-19. It has, however now passed through all of the Parliamentary stages and is awaiting Royal Assent.

Pensions 2021 - the top six topics to watch

2020 was not the year that any of us expected. With Brexit and Covid-19 occupying much of the Government's time, it is little surprise that some of the developments that were expected to occur in the pensions world did not materialise. As a result, we expect 2021 to be a busy year for the pensions industry, with changes on the horizon that sponsors, trustees and pensions professionals will need to get to grips with.

Brexit and pensions

When the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, a transitional period started during which the relationship between the UK and the EU continued as if the UK were still a part of the EU. That Brexit transition period ended at 23:00 on 31 December 2020. The last-minute UK-EU trade agreement then took effect.

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