In line with this, insurance providers are to be forced to ensure their schemes are independently scrutinised, also by April 2015.Webb said the requirement for governance committees in non-trust schemes means there would be, for the first time, a body acting on behalf of members in every pension scheme.The 75bps charge cap move by the government represents a much harder line than three previous options put out to consultation.In October 2013, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) suggested imposing either an absolute 75bps or 100bps cap, or allowing a comply and explain mechanism between the two.The consultation, however, led to further complications for the government, as it was forced to delay its response and suggested measures, with a cap initially expected to be in place by next week, and not 2015.However, after eventually forging a response, the 75bps will also be joined by increased transparency requirements for pension schemes.Under a new legal duty, trustees and independent governance committees will be forced to demand all charge data from providers, in order to scrutinise value for money.The government is also to consult with the Financial Conduct Authority on how to define additional member transaction costs for disclosure, and how to include this in the cap.“Over the next 10 years, the new charge cap will transfer £200m from the profits of the pensions industry to the pockets of savers,” Webb said.“To shine some light into the dark corners of the pensions industry, we will enforce full transparency on all charges faced by pension members. People need to have confidence [they’re] putting money into good pension schemes where their money will be looked after.”In additional moves, the government will also outlaw active member discounts, where charges are added when a member moves employers and ceases contributions.It will also outlaw consultancy charging and commission, where members are charged, via the scheme, for services received by their employer or sales commission. The UK government has moved to cap the charges borne by members saving into auto-enrolment defined contribution (DC) schemes, as its overhaul of the market continues.Announcing the reforms in Parliament, pensions minister Steve Webb said the proposed 75 basis point cap on DC default fund charges would be in place by April 2015.Schemes with all-inclusive annual and default fund charges will also see equivalent caps put into place.The government will also compel DC pension providers to reveal fully all member-borne charges to either trustees or independent governance committees in the case of non-trust DC schemes.
Dominic Harris, pensions partner at CMS Cameron McKenna, said he did not expect any “significant” changes to either private pensions or the state pension.Mike Kennedy, partner at Barnett Waddingham, nevertheless warned that pension funds should not “rest easy”.However, Harris added that it was inevitable there would be an impact on pensions taxation.“If Scotland sets its own rates of income tax, they are unlikely to be identical to those in the rest of the UK,” he said.Kevin Legrand, head of pensions policy at Buck Consultants, noted that occupational pensions were “closely tied” to the tax system, and said any changes would lead to a “growing divergence between the regimes on each side of the border”.Harris agreed, arguing that the differing income tax rates would cause “administrative issues”, while Kennedy predicted increasing costs as a result.Arthur Zegleman, senior consultant at Towers Watson, noted that the Holyrood parliament had yet to avail itself of more limited tax-setting powers it has possessed since it was established in 1999, but warned that pension funds would need to be ready regardless.He pointed out that the post-tax income paid by occupational schemes, and the pensions tax relief paid by the UK’s tax authorities (HMRC), could vary depending on whether the member’s main residence were in Scotland or elsewhere.“Until 2018, HMRC plans to make uniform payments regardless of where the individual lives and balance things out by adjusting how much tax it takes out of their pay, but that is only a temporary sticking plaster,” he said.Zegelman stressed that there had so far been no suggestion Holyrood would be granted any powers over pensions tax relief, with the UK government so far having only committed to income tax.LCP partner Bob Scott added that, with the referendum concluded, pension trustees could now turn their attention to the changes announced by UK chancellor George Osborne in his Budget. Granting the Scottish Parliament greater autonomy could lead to problems in the area of pension taxation, experts have warned after the country rejected independence.Yesterday’s referendum – which saw 55% of the electorate vote in favour of Scotland remaining part of the UK – was preceded by pledges from the UK’s three main political parties that further powers would be bestowed on the devolved administration in Edinburgh.A commission, to be headed by Green Investment Bank chairman Lord Smith, will now negotiate the extent of new powers, which are expected to include greater autonomy on tax matters.National Association of Pension Funds chief executive Joanne Segars noted Smith’s appointment, which will see his commission also examine greater autonomy on welfare spending, and said the organisation would be staying alert of any proposals that would have a “material” impact on pensions.
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