Pension schemes

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 9 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 2:00, 9 Ionawr 2018

May I start by saying what a pleasure it is once again to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger? Clause 13 makes changes to extend Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ powers to refuse to register and deregister pension schemes. The changes will enable HMRC to restrict tax registration to those pension schemes providing legitimate pension benefits and support the Pensions Regulator in its new authorisation and supervision regime for master trust schemes. The measure supports the Government’s objective of fairness in the tax system by maintaining the integrity of pensions tax relief.

Over the past few years, there have been growing threats to individuals’ pension savings, and they come in many forms. Many start with the setting up of a scheme, into which individuals are persuaded to pay their hard-earned savings, with a promise of various benefits. Sometimes these apparent pension schemes are no more than a scam, designed to extract money from unsuspecting individuals who end up with little or no retirement savings as a consequence. The Government are committed to tackling that threat, to ensure that individuals who save in a pension scheme have those funds available to them when they retire.

A master trust scheme is an occupational pension scheme for multiple employers, and clause 13 will extend HMRC’s powers to refuse to register and to deregister master trust pension schemes that are not authorised under the Pensions Regulator’s new authorisation and supervision regime. Aligning HMRC’s registration and the Pensions Regulator’s authorisation processes for master trust schemes will provide more effective protection for individuals.

The proposed amendments to schedule 3 would require pension schemes to provide additional information about the investment strategy of the scheme before HMRC decides to register the scheme and require the scheme to publish an annual report of costs in connection with the investments of the scheme to maintain its registration. The Government agree that transparency is integral to good governance and delivering improved member outcomes. However, the amendments would add little and largely duplicate existing requirements. The additional information required would not help HMRC to perform its role in collecting tax and ensuring that pension schemes are adhering to the tax rules. It would duplicate existing requirements by other regulatory bodies and add burdens and costs to pension schemes.

The amendments also propose that an annual report of costs in connection with the investments of the scheme be published. The Government consulted last year on legislation requiring transaction costs and other charges to be published for every investment option offered by defined contribution schemes, not just master trust schemes, and given to members. We plan to bring regulations for that into force in April this year.

The clause will ensure that HMRC can prevent scam pension schemes from being established and that it has the powers to take action where an existing scheme is discovered. That enables HMRC to protect people who have saved money for their retirement from the threat of pension scams. It supports the Government’s efforts to tackle abuse across the tax system, and I therefore commend the clause to the Committee.