03 October 2023

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has conducted an independent review of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to assess its performance across multiple areas.

Led by Mary Starks of DWP, the review looks at how well TPR is doing in a regulatory role, how well it adapts to challenges, its operation and funding, its relationship management with key stakeholders and how well it uses opportunities for efficiency.

It is noted that TPR is well-regarded and well-run, with particular note being given to the successful implementation of automatic enrolment. The report makes 17 recommendations, that broadly fit into the below themes:

  • Risk and growth: following the LDI event last autumn and broader policy concerns about productive finance, the question of how UK pension funds are invested has come under the spotlight. It is important that TPR plays an authoritative part in these policy discussions, as an informed and expert voice aligned with the interests of savers.
  • Compliance and enforcement: TPR has a thoughtful approach to driving compliance by both employers and pension schemes, based on facilitating and encouraging compliance where possible, backed up by enforcement action as necessary. This is effective at driving compliance but leaves some stakeholders questioning TPR’s appetite to punish wrongdoing. It is important that TPR is known for taking tougher action when necessary.
  • Digital transformation and value for money: TPR has grown significantly in recent years (in common with many other regulators) reflecting additional workload associated with EU exit and the pandemic, as well as the addition of new responsibilities. To avoid inexorable growth as its remit expands TPR must find ways to discharge existing functions more efficiently, and plans to do this through digital transformation. This represents a great opportunity to transform ways of working but also a significant risk of spending scarce budget badly. Getting this right should be a key focus for TPR’s leadership in the coming period.

It is important to see reviews of bodies that can have such a big impact on our industries, with critical analysis given to a department that is considered well-run to seek further improvements.

What are your opinions on TPR and how it can improve? If you have any comments, please feel free to comment in the “Have Your Say” box, please start your message with “TPR” so we can categorise your comment.

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