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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999


Section 2: Registration of stakeholder pension schemes

In addition to meeting the requirements set out in section 1 (and as stated in section 1(1)) pension schemes must be registered as stakeholder schemes with the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) in order to acquire stakeholder status. This section defines the procedure for the registration of stakeholder pension schemes and the role of OPRA in relation to this.

Subsection (1) requires OPRA to maintain a register of stakeholder schemes. The register of stakeholder pension schemes will enable members of the public to identify stakeholder schemes, and also provide a basis on which employers can ensure that they comply with the access requirements set out in section 3.

Subsection (2) requires scheme trustees (or specified individuals from schemes run with alternative governance arrangements) to support applications for registration with a declaration that the scheme meets all the conditions contained in section 1. OPRA are required to register schemes on the basis of this application, subject to subsection (3). There is a discretionary power to impose a fee for registering schemes.

Subsection (3) gives OPRA a power to refuse to register schemes or to remove schemes from the register if it has evidence that the scheme does not comply, or no longer complies, with the conditions in section 1.

Subsection (4) gives OPRA the power to impose sanctions on trustees who do not ensure that a scheme which applies to register as a stakeholder scheme complies with the requirements in section 1, and continues to do so once it has been registered.

It allows two sanctions from the Pensions Act 1995 to be applied to breaches of this obligation:

  • Section 3 of the 1995 Act allows OPRA to prohibit named individuals from acting as trustees;

  • Section 10 of the 1995 Act provides for civil penalties for trustees who breach certain obligations imposed by the Act.

This subsection also makes prescribed individuals from schemes with alternative governance arrangements subject to section 10 penalties in the same circumstances.

Subsection (5) provides a criminal sanction for knowingly or recklessly providing misleading information when applying to register a scheme as a stakeholder pension scheme.

This is consistent with a number of requirements in the Pensions Act 1995 which are underpinned by criminal sanctions for more serious breaches in relation to occupational pension schemes.

Subsection (6). Section 115 of the Pensions Act 1995 provides that offences under the Pensions Act 1995 committed by corporate bodies or Scottish partnerships apply to individuals, such as a manager, director or partner, in certain circumstances, for example, where the offence has been committed with the consent of that individual. This subsection applies this provision to offences under subsection (5).

Subsection (7) contains a power which provides for the register of stakeholder pension schemes (or copies or extracts from it) to be made available for inspection or supplied to prescribed persons, subject to certain conditions.

This power mirrors the existing power in section 6(4) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993, which provides for the register of occupational and personal pensions to be made available for inspection. The intention is for the register to be available for inspection by the general public and by those employers required to offer access to schemes for their employees.

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