A pension schemes bill is set to be laid in parliament in the coming weeks after the government announced a wide-ranging suite of reforms in the Queen’s Speech today.
The much-anticipated legislation includes plans to extend the powers of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and introduce regulations for the pensions dashboard.
Much of the content has been well-trailed and is derived from the government's defined benefit (DB) white paper, published last March, and a raft of consultations over the past two years.
Announcing the government's plans in the House of Lords, the Queen said: "To help people plan for the future, measures will be brought forward to provide simpler oversight of pension savings. To protect people's savings for later life, new laws will provide greater powers to tackle irresponsible mismanagement of private pension schemes."
Pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman earlier this month also said the bill was"completely ready to go", comprising "45-50 clauses" for CDC and "progressing with compulsion" for the pension dashboards.
A briefing document on the policy agenda confirms the government will provide "more options for employers to support their employees, saving collectively and sharing investment and mortality risk".
It also said TPR's powers would be enhanced so it can "respond earlier when employers do not take their pension responsibilities seriously", including new criminal offences punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or £1m fines.
The watchdog will also gain the power to "obtain the right information about a scheme and its sponsoring employer in a timely manner, ensuring it is able to gain redress for pension schemes and members when things go wrong".
On the dashboard, TPR will gain powers to "compel pension schemes to provide accurate information to consumers".
The bill will also contain additional areas on limiting the circumstances in which pension scheme members have the right to transfer out of their defined benefit scheme, and amending the Pension Protection Fund compensation regime to ensure it continues "as intended" while changing the definition of administration charges.
Yet, the bill could again be delayed if a general election is held and its future thereon possibly relies on the Conservative party retaining power. With no government majority, there is also a possibility that the House of Commons rejects the Queen's Speech, derailing the legislation once more.
The government announced the policy agenda shortly after confirming chancellor Sajid Javid will hold his first Budget on 6 November if a Brexit deal has been agreed, or a few weeks after if not.
This article first appeared on sister publication Professional Pensions.