TPR responds to WPC questions over its handling of the Norton Motorcycles case

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) chief executive, Charles Counsell, has written to Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) chair, Stephen Timms, in response to questions posed by Timms concerning TPR’s handling of the Norton Motorcycles case.

As reported by our sister title, Pensions Age, following The Pensions Ombudsman’s (TPO) decision to uphold the complaints relating to the Norton Motorcycles pension schemes, Timms wrote to Counsell asking about TPR’s plan of action.

At the time, Timms described the case as “shocking” and said it raises “serious questions” about the “effectiveness of the regulators involved and the protections we have for people who fall victim to pension scams”.

In his responding letter, Counsell wrote that TPR continues to be in close discussions with Dalriada Trustees and the administrators to Norton.

He noted that TPR is conducting an internal review to consider its approach and response to the scam and “identify if there are further lessons to be learned”.

The review will include consideration of how the regulator uses data to identify trends or patterns that may suggest conflicts of interest and TPR will use the recommendations from the review to support self-improvement and technological development.

“We will consider how we process and develop information around whistleblowing reports, alongside other intelligence sources to identify trends and risks which pose a threat to savers,” added Counsell.

However, Counsell stated that, as TPR is a risk-based regulator, it does not have the resources to review every small pension scheme that is similar to the three Norton schemes.

“To make the best use of public money we have to target our resources where we see the greatest risk,” he noted.

“That is why it is so important that we continue to build on our joined-up approach with other agencies and particularly the work of Project Bloom, to improve our intelligence gathering across the board.”

In response to Counsell’s letter, Timms said: “TPR’s own research has shown the governance standards of small pension schemes to be consistently lower than their larger counterparts.

“Setting up small schemes has provided opportunities to scammers in the past and we will be looking at this in more detail in our upcoming inquiry.”

The WPC had also written to TPR in March 2020 to seek answers on its handling of the case.

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