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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Pension debits

Chapter II

Section 101F gives a former spouse with pension credit rights a right to transfer the cash equivalent of those rights similar to the right which an early leaver has to transfer his accrued rights to another pension scheme or arrangement. However, the right to transfer pension credit benefit does not extend to former spouse members of unfunded schemes.

Subsection (1) requires a transfer notice to be given in writing. This mirrors the requirement in section 95(1) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993;

Subsections (2) and (3) mirror the provisions in section 95(2) and (3) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993. The regulation-making powers in subsections (2)(b) and (c) and 3(c) permit the Secretary of State to prescribe requirements as to the type of annuity which can be purchased, and as to the type of arrangement other than an occupational or personal pension scheme in which rights can be bought, with the cash equivalent of pension credit rights.

We intend to use these powers to prescribe that the cash equivalent of such rights may be used on transfer in similar ways to the ways in which an early leaver’s cash equivalent may be used.

Subsection (4) distinguishes between salary related occupational pension schemes and other schemes when determining the amount of the cash equivalent. This is consistent with section 93A of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (inserted by section 153 of the Pensions Act 1995) which introduced separate procedures for applications for early leaver cash equivalents by members of salary related schemes. Further details of these changes are provided under 101H below.

Subsection (6)(b) we intend to use the regulation-making power to impose additional requirements as to the eligibility of receiving schemes (for example, where the cash equivalent includes a transfer of safeguarded rights).

Section 101G imposes restrictions on the rights of former spouse members to transfer pension credit benefits which broadly correspond to the procedures to be followed by early leavers from salary related occupational pension schemes who wish to exercise their right to a cash equivalent.

Subsection (1) reflects the principle underlying the process that once a statement of entitlement of the amount of the cash equivalent has been provided, the former spouse must make a written transfer request within 3 months.

Subsection (2)(a) limits the right to a cash equivalent to a former spouse who has at least one year to go before reaching the scheme’s normal benefit age; this limitation broadly corresponds to the provision in section 93 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 for deferred members which limits the right to a transfer value to those at least one year before normal pension age.

Subsection (2)(b) provides that the right to transfer a pension credit benefit is also lost if any pension or benefit derived from pension credit rights has become payable.

Subsection (3) is designed to simplify administration for schemes by requiring former spouses who wish to exercise their right to transfer pension credit rights to submit an application to transfer other rights accrued in the scheme, if the scheme so provides.

Section 101H corresponds to the existing provisions in section 93A of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 which is concerned with statements of entitlement of the amount of early leaver cash equivalents for members of salary related schemes – see also section 101F.

Subsection (1) corresponds to section 93A(1) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Subsection (2) contains regulation-making powers similar to those in section 93A(2) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993. We intend to use these powers to prescribe requirements broadly analogous to regulation 6(1) and 6(2) respectively of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996. So, schemes will normally be required to calculate the cash equivalent within 3 months of the date of the former spouse’s application and having calculated it, provide it to the former spouse within 10 days of the calculation date.

Subsection (3) corresponds to section 93A(3) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993. We intend to use the regulation-making power to mirror the provisions in regulation 6(3) of The Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996. The regulations will limit the former spouse to one transfer request in a 12 month period unless the rules of the scheme, or the trustees or managers permit a further application to be made earlier.

Subsection (4) corresponds to section 93A(4) of the Act. We intend that the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) should have the power to impose a penalty, in the case of an individual of up to £1,000 and in other cases up to £10,000, for a breach of the requirements mentioned in this subsection.

Section 101I corresponds to section 97(1) of the Pension Schemes Act. We intend to use the regulation-making power to prescribe requirements similar to those in regulation 7 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996.

Section 101J: the time limits for trustees to comply with a transfer notice for pension credit benefit correspond to those for the exercise of the right to a cash equivalent under Part IV, Chapter IV of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Subsection (1): the 6 month time limit is consistent with section 99(2) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (as amended by paragraph 6(a) of Schedule 6 to the Pensions Act 1995).

Subsections (2), (3) and (6)(a): the regulation-making powers are similar to those in section 99(4) and 99(4A) Pension Schemes Act 1993 (as amended by Schedule 6 paragraph 6(c) to the Pensions Act 1995). We intend to use the regulation-making power to allow OPRA to grant an extension of the time allowed for making a transfer in the same way as provided for in regulation 13 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996.

Subsections (4) and (6)(b) make provisions similar to those in section 99(7) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (inserted by paragraph 6(e) of Schedule 6 to the Pensions Act 1995) concerning the late payment of an early leaver’s cash equivalent by an occupational scheme. An individual trustee or manager who fails to discharge their liability for the pension credit within the implementation period will be required, except in prescribed cases, to notify OPRA of that fact. We intend that where all such steps as are reasonable have not been taken to discharge the liability for the pension credit timeously, then the trustee or manager concerned may be subject to a fine by OPRA of up to £1,000, and up to £10,000 for a corporate offence. These fines will be consistent with the penalties for failing to pay an early leaver transfer value on time.

Subsection (5): the purpose of this subsection is to enable OPRA to fine the trustees or managers of an occupational pension scheme if the latter fail to notify OPRA of their failure to discharge their liability for the pension credit within the implementation period (as required under subsection (4)). We intend that the fines should be consistent with those outlined in subsection (4).

Subsection (7): the meaning of the valuation date defined here takes account of the different procedures in the case of a transfer of pension credit benefit from a salary related occupational pension scheme or a money purchase scheme.

Subsection (7)(a): the valuation date for a member of a salary related scheme will be determined in a similar way to the “guarantee date” under section 93A(2) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 and regulation 6(1) and (2) of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996.

Subsection (7)(b): the valuation date for a former spouse member of a money purchase occupational pension scheme or a personal pension scheme is consistent with the “relevant date” as defined in section 94 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Section 101K

Subsections (1) and (2) are similar to the provision for withdrawing a transfer request under sections 100(1) and (2) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Subsection (3) complements the new section 101G(3) (see above). If the scheme requires former spouse members to exercise their rights to a transfer of pension credit benefit and other accrued rights at the same time, then a transfer notice under Part IVA may only be withdrawn if a transfer notice under section 95 of the Pensions Act 1995 is also withdrawn.

Section 101L: this section provides a power to increase or reduce cash equivalents in respect of pension credit benefits.

Subsections (1) and (2) are consistent with the power to increase or reduce cash equivalents under section 97(2)(b) and (3)(b) and (c) of Part IV of Chapter IV of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

We intend to lay regulations broadly similar to regulations 8 and 9 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996 and regulation 4(1) of the Personal Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1987. We intend to use the regulation-making power at (2)(a) to provide for a cash equivalent to be increased on late payment. The proposed regulations will mirror the provisions set out in regulation 10 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996 and regulation 4(2) of the Personal Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1987. For example, an occupational pension scheme will be required to pay either the cash equivalent recalculated at the current date, or the original transfer value increased by 1% above the bank base rate over the period from the date of the original calculation until the current date.

Where a scheme is underfunded at the time the transfer payment of pension credit benefit is to be made, we intend to use the regulation-making power at (2)(b) to enable the trustees to reduce the cash equivalent if the circumstances set out in regulation 8(4) or (6) of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Transfer Values) Regulations 1996 are met, for example where the last valuation showed the scheme was underfunded on the basis of a minimum funding requirement. Where a cash equivalent is reduced in these circumstances, the former spouse will be notified of that fact. One of the options open to the former spouse will be to withdraw the notice (see section 101K above) and to leave her rights in the scheme until the funding position improves.

Section 101M provides trustees or managers who comply with their obligations in respect of a transfer of pension credit benefit with a statutory discharge of liability in the same way that section 99 (1)(a) provides a discharge of liability for trustees who comply with their obligations under Part IV, Chapter IV of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Section 101N mirrors section 101 of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 and provides that any charge or lien on or set-off against the pension will be disregarded in calculating the cash equivalent.

Section 101O mirrors section 100(4) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Section 101P defines some terms used in the Chapter.

Subsection (1): the definition of “qualifying scheme” excludes unfunded schemes;

Subsection (2) mirrors section 93(1A) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (inserted by section 152(3) of the Pensions Act 1995). The definition reflects the special procedures introduced by that Act in respect of cash equivalents in salary related schemes. These have been carried forward in this Act for cash equivalents in respect of salary related pension credit benefits for consistency and ease of administration.

Section 101Q provides a power similar to that in section 93(1B) (b) of the Pension Schemes Act 1993 (inserted by section 153(3) of the Pensions Act 1995). We intend to use this power to deal with those cases where the pension credit benefit includes a mixture of salary-related and money purchase benefits.

Section 38: Treatment in winding up

This section deals with the priority to be awarded to pension credit rights on the winding up of an occupational pension scheme.

Subsection (1) provides for pension credit benefit to be included in the preferential liabilities on the winding up of a scheme to which section 56 of the Pensions Act 1995 applies (that is a salary related scheme subject to the minimum funding requirement (MFR)).

Subsection (2) concerns schemes to which section 56 of the 1995 Act does not apply (that is schemes not subject to the MFR). It gives pensions in payment derived from pension credits the same priority as other pensions in payment. Rights that have not come into payment are accorded the same priority as the rights of deferred members (early leavers). The order of priority is consistent with that for salary related schemes.

Subsection (3) provides that the provisions of subsection (2) override scheme rules.

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