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PLSA calls on expanded powers for U.K. Pensions Regulator

The U.K. Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association called for the Pensions Regulator's powers to be broadened, according to a consultation response published Wednesday.

The PLSA wants for the regulator's information-gathering powers to be boosted and that the range of penalties available at its disposal to deter poor practice and eliminate criminal behavior is increased in efforts to protect pension fund participants.

Having welcomed the proposals set out by the U.K. government's white paper in March, the PLSA also recommended in its response that plan sponsors be legally compelled to disclose information to trustees in relation to any corporate deals which they believe will have an impact on the funding of the pension fund. Trustees should also be granted powers that will aid them in obtaining information during transaction negotiations, the PLSA said.

PLSA also wants to see trustees be able to negotiate or renegotiate a funding package without having to wait for the next corporate valuation, held every three years.

"We recognize the need for additional information gathering powers, increasing the range and strength of penalties available, and updating requirements on when and how companies should offer additional financial contributions to a pension fund," said Tiffany Tsang, policy lead for local government pension schemes and defined benefit at the PLSA, in a news release.

The U.K. pensions association also recommended that TPR team up efforts with the Crown Prosecution Service, the police, the Ministry of Justice and other criminal justice agencies to punish reckless corporations.

"However, much more detail is needed to ensure that the new powers work and are used proportionately," Ms. Tsang added. "For instance, it is currently unclear how often the new civil and criminal sanctions powers are intended to be used, and how they will fit into the criminal justice system. There must be a joined-up approach with criminal justice agencies and we believe further clarity around the formal stages leading to enforcement action should be included in draft legislation or through guidance."