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11.0 Introduction

This section lists the main items to be disclosed by trustees. It identifies who is entitled to information and identifies periods within which information has to be given out.

Comment

The provision of proper information for members and beneficiaries is crucial. This is of particular relevance for requests for information concerning the financial soundness of the scheme; the employer(s); the scheme’s rules; the benefits provided; the actual financing of accrued pension entitlements; the scheme’s investment policy and the management of the scheme’s risks and costs.

A code of practice on disclosure was to have been introduced in 2006 to replace in entirety the regulations hitherto governing pension scheme disclosure of information (at that time, mainly the Occupational Pension Scheme (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1996). However, following responses to consultation the Government decided in August 2006 that legislation did not require a code of practice on disclosure. This meant that the 1996 regulations, with their prescriptive nature, largely continue to govern disclosure standards. Effective 6 April 2014, The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2013 replaced the 1996 regulations [see 11.1.1].

The Code of Practice (Early Leavers – reasonable periods), introduced 6 April 2006 [see 24.10.2(iv)], confirms:

(a) 

the rights given to those leaving occupational pensions schemes after three months and with less than 2 years’ pensionable service (subsequently 30 days’ qualifying service – see 17.2.2) and without vested rights to benefit under the scheme rules

(b) 

the duties placed upon trustees by legislation

(c) 

the regulators’ view as to what constitutes 'reasonable time periods' in the legislation for:

  (i) 

notifying members of their rights and informing them how they can exercise those rights and

  (ii) 

members’ responses to trustees

(d) 

that trustees are required to give effect to a member’s chosen option and explains the default process where a member fails to respond to their notification.

This section of the Guide sets out and confirms the detail of the 'reasonable periods' involved.

The Pensions Ombudsman has set out some general principles relating to communicating with individuals:

General principles of communicating with members

• 

Comply with legal requirements

• 

avoid delays and communicate within any time limit

• 

ensure scheme members are provided with, and have access to, up-to-date, accurate and adequate information about the scheme and their benefits

• 

take particular care when telling members about changes to the scheme

• 

take particular care when communicating information orally

• 

before communicating any information put yourself in the place of the recipient and

• 

accept responsibility.

Note: Where timeframes mention ‘days’ this means ‘all days’; references to ‘working days’ exclude Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The scheme booklet

Many complaints are made to the Ombudsman on the basis that information contained in the scheme booklet is inaccurate, incomplete, misleading or out of date. Whilst the booklet cannot replicate the scheme Rule(s), it should set out the main current provisions of the scheme, should be consistent with the Rule(s) and should make clear where authoritative information can be obtained.

Review of disclosure information

The DWP has undertaken a review of the disclosure requirements as they apply to occupational and personal pension schemes and has consulted on regulations to simplify the disclosure requirements.













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