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U.K.’s Pensions Regulator to focus on increasing protection for DC, DB participants

The Pensions Regulator in the U.K. will increase its budget 5% to 88.6 million ($122 million) in the next year to boost its efforts to protect participants in defined contribution and defined benefit plans, according to a three-year corporate plan that the regulator unveiled Thursday.

Among key areas of focus in the plan, TPR listed enhancing standards of trusteeship across defined contribution plans and defined benefit funds. The regulator will be paying close attention to U.K. multiemployer plans, known as master trusts, making sure employers are held accountable for meeting their automatic-enrollment duties. The regulator will focus on ensuring that contributions are paid to multiemployer plans on time and that additional contribution rate changes that come into effect next year are followed.

"Saving into a retirement plan is becoming the social norm thanks to the success of automatic enrollment, and we will be working to make sure new and existing employers continue to comply with their legal duties, including the increasing contribution rates in April 2018 and April 2019," the plan said.

TPR said it is also preparing for the ramifications of Britain's exit from the European Union and assessing the implications for cross-border plans "We will continue to work closely with the government and wider industry to build our understanding and response to the potential effects of Brexit on pension funds," it said.

The regulator said it will provide guidance once the effects of Brexit on U.K. pension funds become known, adding it will respond to any changes to European pensions law and requirements in the U.K. law as Britain exits the EU.

"We continue to see changes in the wider retirement landscape that impact our organization and the industry, and create new challenges — for example continued uncertainty in the macro economy and the significant shift of savings into defined contribution plans. The way we work will undoubtedly need to evolve further to reflect these and other ongoing developments in the sector," the regulator said.

In addition, TPR will increase its workforce by 12% in 2018 to 538 employees.