Schedule 3 - Early leavers: transfer values

Part of Pension Schemes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 28th October 2014.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 2:15 pm, 28th October 2014

As the hon. Gentleman observed earlier, this is permissive legislation. I hesitate to use the cliché of letting a thousand flowers bloom; but, if in doubt, one reaches for cliché. The point is that we do not know what models people will come up with. It is fairly obvious, if we have a kind of vanilla DB scheme, what  the right transfer arrangements should be to mirror the current regime of a vanilla DC scheme. We have seen cash balance and know what that looks like. However, it is hard to sit down in advance and specify in the Bill exactly how we should do transfers in some type of scheme we have never thought of.

I will give the hon. Gentleman a sense of the complexity of some of this. He will be familiar with the Bridge case and the definition of money-purchase schemes. We talk about little else over our tea table at home. In that case we found out that there are many different permutations—for example, things that look like money purchase but have an underpinning, so that it is money that is invested and if things go well that is what you get, but if things go badly you get something else, such as a floor amount. What is the right transfer value in those cases? The point about giving ourselves regulation-making power is simply to say that we have not thought of every possible scheme that might arise; we have set out a general approach that we think is right for the categories we have come up with. However, in the event that someone invents something else and what is in the Bill does not seem appropriate, we are reserving the right to say, “Although technically this belongs to this category, it looks more like that, so we will have a different set of transfer rules”. I cannot give you an example, because to do so would be trying to anticipate things that have not been invented yet.