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Board meeting summary June 2021

A summary of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) Board meeting in June 2021.

Apologies and welcomes

The Chair welcomed all those attending. Apologies had been received from Robert Herga and the Chief People Officer of the Pensions Protection Fund (PPF). No conflicts had been noted in advance, or were declared at the meeting.

The Chair’s update

The updated Board Code of Conduct and Register of Interest had been signed off and published on the website, and the Chair had written to the Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to inform them that TPR had reviewed and updated the documents and published the results as they had requested.

A timetable was in place for the forthcoming NED recruitment; the plan was to go out to advert at the end of July, subject to Ministerial approval. The independent member of the panel, Mark Addison, was in place. The Chair and Board Secretary had attended a meeting with the DWP on the subject recently, and had a lengthy discussion on diversity and ensuring an inclusive process.

CEO report

Project Bloom (PB) [the multi-agency taskforce set up to tackle pension scams] had collectively agreed a response to the WPSC’s recommendations on PB and this would form part of the DWP’s response. In addition, we had responded separately to the TPR specific recommendations. It was noted that the DWP special policy unit (SPU) had also undertaken a review of PB and had come back with recommendations, many of which were consistent with those that been identified by TPR as potential improvements to DWP.

The Board discussed the challenges for regulators of quantifying the impact of their work, which often involves preventing harm taking place in the first place. The difficulty – shared by other regulators – of assessing the monetary impact of what we do was noted. It was suggested that a benefits framework, covering internal benefits, industry benefits and societal benefits, could be useful and provide constant challenge on benefits, not just for projects but for the wider work of the organisation. This would be considered as part of the value for money work which is ongoing.

Annual report and accounts (ARA) 2020/2021

The Board received an update from the chair of the Audit and Risk Committee (ARAC). ARAC was convening an additional meeting and, subject to the completion of the National Audit Office (NAO) audit and the resolution of a query regarding levels of control in the governance statement, it would approve the Governance Statement and Accounts on behalf of the Board. Following that members agreed that final approval and signing of the ARA would be delegated to the Chair and CEO.

Superfunds regime

The Board received an oral update on developments in this area.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy

The Board received the strategy, which was due to be published in late June, together with a brief outline communications plan. The EDI strategy had been delivered as part of TPR’s commitment to have a fully inclusive and more diverse organisation, and the EDI committee had worked with recognised diversity experts to help shape it. The strategy aimed to set the tone from the outset that TPR knows that it also has work to do internally as an organisation to set an example to the industry on EDI.

Looking at the external market, it was noted that a number of groups were trying to improve diversity in trade bodies, and that there was much enthusiasm within industry to enhance the diversity of trustee groups. 70 volunteers had come forward (both individual and corporate), and TPR’s work with the external community was focussed on supporting and validating some of the changes the industry was trying to make itself.

The Board discussed, welcomed and endorsed the strategy.