The Pensions Regulator is making “significant efforts” to pursue more cases and to use a wider range of powers where appropriate to ensure a case like that of BHS with its £571m pension deficit doesn’t happen again.
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Chief executive Lesley Titcomb said the regulator will focus on being more nimble in a letter to chair of the work and pensions select committee Frank Field. It has already taken a number of actions to speed up elements of its work in relation to the funding of defined benefit schemes and the use of its powers more generally, she said.
It comes as Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green made a voluntary contribution of up to £363m to settle the BHS pension schemes this week, ending almost a year of uncertainty for around 20,000 BHS pensioners.
The work and pensions committee welcomed the announcement that the regulator had reached an out-of-court settlement with Green over the BHS pension fund deficit, but reiterated its assertion that had it been a ”nimbler, more assertive and more pro-active regulator, it might never have been necessary to get to this stage”.
“We welcome the regulator’s acknowledgement of its need to change, which comes just as the government has published the green paper taking forward our proposals for reform,” said Field today. “What is vital now is that the regulator follows up these promises of change with firm and sustained action.”
He said the committee will monitor progress closely and will take further evidence on the BHS settlement and the regulator’s plans for reform.