4 May 2021: Argyll opens Leeds office

17 Jun 2020: TPR updates Contribution Deferral guidance

5 Aug 2019: TPR's tougher stance on recovery plans

7 Mar 2019: TPR’s Annual Funding Statement a game-changer

7 Dec 2018: DWP publishes superfund consultation

26 Jun 2017: TPR agrees settlement with Coats

30 Apr 2017: PM promises TPR M&A powers

28 Feb 2017: TPR agrees settlement with Sir Philip Green

9 Nov 2016: Brexit so far

8 Nov 2016: BHS ripple effect

2 Nov 2016: Sir Philip Green sent warning notice

1 Nov 2016: Argyll Financial becomes Argyll Covenant

3 Oct 2016: Tata Steel update

2 Jun 2016: BHS to be liquidated

29 Mar 2016: Tata plans sale of UK Steel

3 Sep 2015: TPR takes dim view of late valuations

13 Aug 2015: New TPR covenant guidance

28 May 2015: Contribution notice in Carrington Wire case

22 Dec 2014: Third warning notice for Guinness Peat

18 Dec 2014: New PPF rules for Asset-Backed Contributions

19 Aug 2014: TPR announces Lehman Brothers settlement

10 Jun 2014: TPR publishes revised funding code

27 Mar 2014: EC postpones holistic balance sheet

20 Mar 2014: PPF announces new insolvency risk model

17 Mar 2014: PPF guarantees harder to certify

7 Feb 2014: Argyll Financial submits consultation response

2 Dec 2013: Regulator publishes new draft funding code

19 Nov 2013: Asset-backed contributions guidance from TPR

22 Oct 2013: FSD warning helps MF Global scheme buyout

10 Sep 2013: TPR supportive of Kodak restructuring

31 Jul 2013: Schneider Electric acquires Invensys for £3.4bn

24 Jul 2013: Supreme Court overturns FSD super-priority

8 May 2013: Support for employers in TPR's Statement

5 Aug 2019: TPR's tougher stance on recovery plans
In a TPR review of DB pensions schemes between September 2018 and 2019, the Regulator analysed the ratio of deficit repair contributions to dividends paid by employers in the FTSE350 and discovered that those with defined benefit schemes paid on average 14 times more in dividends than in pension contributions.

The Financial Times reported earlier in the year that over 100 companies were paying, on average, six times more in dividends than in pension contributions. Nicola Parish, the Executive Director of Frontline Regulation at TPR specifically stated the Regulator’s intention to continue to intervene in companies where there is a concern that the DB scheme is not being treated fairly by an employer and working with trustees and employers to secure appropriate recovery plans and acceptable deficit repair payments.

TPR’s recent Compliance and Enforcement Bulletin listed various examples of the Regulator’s achievements and overall tougher approach against anyone failing to meet their legal pension duties, including their first fraud conviction due to stricter regulation (for making prohibited Employer Related Investments), their first custodial sentence as a result of TPR prosecution and their largest fine to a trustee to date, totalling £104k.

This firm line being taken by TPR demonstrates the Regulator’s intention to ensure that pension schemes are being treated equitably with other stakeholders, including shareholders and particularly where payments to shareholders limit an employer’s ability to support the scheme.

The full article can be found here.

Argyll comment:  the article is evidence of TPR’s tougher stance on funding and recovery plans in light of the March 2019 Annual Funding Statement.  As ever, a balance needs to be struck between paying dividends and repairing pension scheme deficits.  The best support for a pension scheme is a viable ongoing sponsor and businesses sometimes need shareholder support for financing which is unlikely to be forthcoming if no dividends are paid.  

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