TPR Publishes General Code of Practice

General Code of Practice published by TPR

The final version of The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) new code of practice, the General Code of Practice, which was previously known as the Single Code of Practice, has been published.

The General Code of Practice, at over 170 pages, documents TPR’s goals for The Occupational Pension Schemes (Governance) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and lays out enhancements to its guidance in areas such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), scheme continuity, diversity, and cyber security.

Published to Parliament on January 10, 2024, the General Code of Practice replaces ten existing codes, and is due to come into force on March 27, 2024. 

As Pensions Age reported: “(The General Code of Practice) aims to provide trustees with one set of clear, consistent expectations on scheme governance and administration, with the new format designed to make it easier for governing bodies to find TPR’s expectations and consider whether they are meeting them.”

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The General Code of Practice AKA The Single Code of Practice

As Pensions Age reported: “(The General Code of Practice) aims to provide trustees with one set of clear, consistent expectations on scheme governance and administration, with the new format designed to make it easier for governing bodies to find TPR’s expectations and consider whether they are meeting them.”

At this stage, a point to note is that the General Code of Practice was known as the Single Code of Practice, while it was a work in progress.

This name is still sometimes used by Pension Trustees, Pension Auditors and Pension Assurance reporters. Obviously, the new name will supersede it, and rapidly, but there will be a short transition time, so it is worth pointing out the name change to help avoid confusion.

The General Code of Practice – key points to note

Our Pension Audit and Pension Assurance teams at Assure UK have been monitoring the code’s development, and after reviewing the General Code of Practice at publication, have highlighted these key points:

ESOG and ORA outputs needs to work interactively

Effective System of Governance (ESOG) is now a clear area of interest for TPR, and one that it wants pension trustees to focus on.

As such the ESOG and Own Risk Assessment (ORA) documentation need to work together and in sync, so that changes, risks, and other significant items are detailed in both documents.

Risk assessment for schemes with 100 or more members now mandated 

Pension schemes with one hundred or more members are now mandated to action and record their ORA as part of the ESOG.

Which underlines the point above about the two becoming in step and intrinsically linked.

Remuneration policies have been clarified

Remuneration policy has been made clearer, with the governing body only needing to cover the costs for which it is responsible.

Further, the requirement to make remuneration available to scheme members has been removed.

No clear division between public sector and private sector pension schemes

At the point of publication, the General Code of Practice is a single code covering both public sector pension schemes and private sector pension schemes.

This has been something of an initial surprise and has prompted an interim response from TPR saying it has worked to make the users for each specific module clearer, by adding introductory text at the beginning of appropriate modules to explain what scheme types the module applies to.

The codes of practice rolled into the General Code of Practice

For reference, the ten codes of practice that have been rolled into the General Code of Practice are:

  1. Reporting breaches of the law
  2. Early leavers
  3. Late payment of contributions (occupational pension schemes)
  4. Late payment of contributions (personal pension schemes)
  5. Trustee knowledge and understanding
  6. Member nominated trustees/member-nominated directors putting arrangements in place
  7. Internal controls
  8. Dispute resolution reasonable periods
  9. DC code
  10. Public service code

Assure UK’s initial thoughts on the General Code of Practice

Bhav Patel, Director of Audit and Assurance, at Assure UK, after an initial read and review of the new code said:

Governance is front and centre

“While this has taken longer than initially thought, all of us involved in the UK pensions industry can now see how TPR has confirmed governance as the centre point of pension schemes.”

“For Assure UK, with our leading role in pension audits and assurance reporting, we can only welcome and acknowledge the validity of this move.”

Initial concerns have been addressed by TPR

“Further, having seen how the code has progressed, we are very pleased that concerns which were highlighted by the community at initial draft stage have been addressed.

“We must therefore give credit to TPR for its consultative, engaged, and consensus driven approach to creating the General Code of Practice”

It will be a lot of additional work for Trustees

“Unsurprisingly, with a change of this magnitude and inspite of its overall goal of making regulations simpler and fit for purpose in the Twenty-First century, there is going to be a lot of additional work for Pension Trustees.”

“We are already hearing from customers that they are working through gap analysis exercises to better understand where they have areas of concern.

“They have also flagged that they know they will be working hard to update and create policy documents to cover the changes”

“Obviously, given our pension industry role as dedicated experts in pension audits and assurance, we are supporting our customers in every which way we can, and expect others to turn to us for help as the General Code of Practice comes into effect from March 27, 2024”

Assure UK – here to help

If you would like to discuss more about the General Code of Practice from the TPR, or any other topics related to your pension scheme, the team at Assure UK is here to help.

Specialists in both Pension Audits and Pension Assurance reporting, we have both an in-depth and broad-based knowledge of pensions in the UK and can support you in your duties as Pension Trustee, or Pension Management team.

Call: 020 7112 8300

Email: info@assureuk.co.uk

Additional, helpful information

Here are links to topics related to the General Code of Practice that you will find useful:
(Note: as mentioned above the General Code of Practice was previously known as the Single Code of Practice)