• From The Pensions Regulator:

    In-depth analysis of how the UK’s defined benefit pension schemes fared during the economic turbulence experienced in 2008/09 was jointly published today (Tuesday) by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and the Pensions Regulator (the regulator).

    Much of the analysis in the Purple Book 2009 is based on new information contained in the returns which schemes provided to the regulator by the end of March 2009. These returns contain details about such things as scheme valuation, asset allocation and membership.

    PPF Chief Executive, Alan Rubenstein, said: “This year’s Purple Book highlights how the dramatic deterioration in the economic and financial environment during 2008/09, not just for the UK but for most major economies, led to heightened risk for the schemes in the PPF universe.

    “The Purple Book continues to provide important informatio…

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  • From The Pensions Regulator:

    The Pensions Regulator today calls for greater scrutiny of transfer incentive exercises, warning trustees of the risks these pose to members’ benefits.

    Speaking at the NAPF Annual Trustee conference, David Norgrove, chair of the Pensions Regulator said:

    “Trustees should start from the presumption that such exercises and transfers are not in member interests. If a company is willing to encourage the transfer, the company’s gain is likely to be the member’s loss.”

    The effect of the economic climate on pension scheme deficits has led many employers to review the form of the pension provision they offer to their employees. This in turn has fuelled the level of activity in the de-risking and the liability-management markets.

    Since regulatory guidance on inducements was published in January 2007, transfer incentives or enhanced t…

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  • From The Pensions Regulator:

    The Pensions Regulator’s revised Trustee Knowledge and Understanding (TKU) code of practice is now in effect. The code sets minimum requirements for trustees to help ensure pension schemes are run effectively.

    The guidance supporting the code has also been subject to a review. The most significant change is that there is a reduced requirement on trustees of small (12-99 members) fully insured DC schemes.

    You can view and download the revised code of practice from our…

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  • From The Pensions Regulator:

    Aimed at focusing greater attention on risks facing pension scheme members, the Pensions Regulator has today published revised internal controls guidance for consultation, alongside new ‘bite-sized’ e-learning modules which provide an overview of the topic.

    This forms a vital part of the current

    The new guidance aims to ensure that trustees, especially of smaller schemes, have the tools to perform their critical role in protecting pensions, particularly in the current economic climate.

    The implementation of robust internal controls is a legal requirement for trustees and the failure to put processes in place can result in scheme members being exposed to the risks associated with poor record-keeping, inappropriate investment allocation and conflicts of interest in trustee boards.

    The revised guidance, which provides assistance with key governance ar…

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  • From IVANews:

    This makes for some sober reading, particularly if looking at the total number of individual  insolvencies- the figure is an astounding 134,142- an increase of 26% from last year. Representing:

    74,670 bankruptcies
    47,641 IVA’s
    11,831 DRO”s
    This is the highest total since official records began in 1960.

    Albeit that the economy is slowing recovering, people made unemployed or redundant last year are still feeling the effects, not helped by lenders and institutions taking a hard line with individuals.

    Creditors have also started to get tough, according to Louise Brittain of Deloitte. This was reflected in the jump in IVAs, when individuals come to an official deal with their creditors.
    “This is a result of increased creditor pressure which is unlikely to let up any time soon, and highlights the desperate financial difficulties facing individuals,” she said.
    She added that the rise at the end of 2009 was surprising given that many people tended to delay dealing…

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  • From This is Money:

    The number of people putting properties up for sale rose more than twice as fast as those looking to buy in February, indicating that house price rises could begin to slow.
    The mismatch between supply and demand, which had previously seen a greater number of new potential buyers compared to sellers, had been seen as a key factor in supporting house price recovery.
    As more sellers enter the marketplace, though, house price rises could be held back ? at least in the short term.
    Rics reported that 15% more of its member estate agents said they had seen a rise rather than fall in sales instructions from homeowners, while only 7% more recorded a rise than fall in potential buyers.
    February marked the second month when the supply of properties for sale has outstripped demand from new buyers, although both measures have turned positive after January’s -5% and -20% respective balances.
    A balance of 17% more surveyors reported rising than falling prices during February, although this…

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  • From This is Money:

    Commentary from This is Money’s mortgages editor Simon Lambert

    Mortgage rates have continued to inch down, with lenders nibbling away at their fixed rates in particular.

    Santander has cut the rate on its five-year fixed rate mortgage to below 5%, but once again you’ll need a hefty deposit to get it – the deal for homebuyers is now available at 4.99%, but only for those who can raise a 30% deposit.

    Meanwhile, Nationwide cut the deposit needed for its best tracker remortgages.

    While most SVR borrowers should be sheltered from a rate rise, smaller building societies are deciding to risk bad press by raising SVRs without the base rate increasing. (Check your SVR here).
    This move is aimed at forcing borrowers enjoying low SVRs into remortgaging.

    The outlook for fixed rates coming down further looks good. The UK’s crawl out of recession has helped confidence slightly, and the cost of borrowing fixed rate funding on the money markets for lenders (swap rates) is falling…

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  • From This is Money:

    Some law firms are paying fees of nearly £300 to win jobs from their rivals. But many find the practice ethically indefensible, because it often results in partial, commercially-motivated advice paid for by unwitting homebuyers and sellers.
    Mail on Sunday Property Editor, Sebastian O’Kelly, takes a closer look at an ongoing issue…
    Since I wrote last month about estate agents demanding referral fees from solicitors – bribes in ordinary language – to pass on their services to home buyers or sellers, I have been deluged with letters from aggrieved readers.
    Many have been the victims of rotten service, loaded charges or downright sharp practice.
    Much of the correspondence comes from solicitors themselves, who in some parts of the country are in a position of such dependency on estate agents that their advice to homebuyers is utterly compromised.
    Plenty of other complaints came in about estate agency mortgage brokers, home information pack providers and structural surveyors….

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  • From This is Money:

    It pits the AA against domestic service companies such as HomeServe and British Gas. The first product is an insurance plan called Home Emergency Response, launched with insurer RSA. Annual cover costs £119.40 for AA members, or £143.40 for non-members.
    It can help with emergencies such as pest infestations, lost keys, burst pipes or broken windows. Adding cover for boiler breakdown costs an extra £3 a month.
    The emergency help will not be delivered by AA employees, but come from a network of specialist suppliers.
    A second service called Home Assist is on trial in Hampshire and south-west London. Here, a uniformed AA employee will turn up at your home for an appointment to do plumbing or electrical work and you pay for the job by the hour.
    The AA is also piloting a ‘handyman’ service in London aimed at homeowners who AA president Edmund King says ‘have jobs they never get round to doing, from putting up shelves to painting the garden fence’.
    Finally, it is…

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  • From This is Money:

    The supermarket giant has teamed up with estate agent Spicer Haart to launch iSold.com, potentially saving customers thousands of fees.

    Tesco’s move back into the property market follows its original venture Tesco Property Market, which offered people the chance to sell their own home for £199.
    But this had to be pulled after opposition from estate agents and existing property listing websites, which pointed out it was breaching rules on home sales, which meant it was responsible for details.

    The Office of Fair Trading wants to change this, but for the time being iSold.com checks will be carried out by Spicerhaart agents.
    The new Tesco move swiftly follows the OFT’s announcement that it wanted to shake up the home selling market and make it easier for rivals to traditional estate agents and people to sell their own homes.

    Typically agents charge between 1% and 2% of a property’s selling price as commission – so iSold.com’s flat fee could save thousands for those with l…

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