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Pensions Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Section 44: Power to require pension levies to be paid in respect of past periods

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) pays compensation to members of pension schemes where the employer becomes insolvent leaving the scheme underfunded. There are two levies which eligible schemes must pay: the risk-based pension protection levy, which goes towards PPF compensation, and the administration levy, which goes towards the PPF’s running costs. A limited number of schemes have the benefit of a Crown guarantee, meaning that if a scheme has an insolvent employer and becomes under-funded government will meet the liabilities of the scheme or the employer in respect of the whole or part of the scheme.

On 11th February 2009 the European Commission ruled that the BT Pension Scheme’s exemption from payment of the levies to the PPF, arising from the Crown guarantee, constituted unlawful State aid and must stop. Following this, in 2010 Regulations were made to ensure future compliance in payment of these two levies.

This section provides for regulations to be made allowing the Articles of the 2005 Order relevant to payment of pension levies and associated regulations to have effect as if the Regulations made in 2010 had always had effect. Regulations made under the section will allow the recovery of levies due in respect of the tax years 2005/06 to 2009/10. This will apply to those schemes covered by a Crown guarantee where an exemption from payment of the levies would give rise to incompatible State aid.

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