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Key points

  • You should work with trustees to ensure information about clients’ defined benefit (DB) schemes is made available to members, prospective members, other beneficiaries and other people entitled to receive information.
  • Trustees must make their annual report available within 7 months of the end of each scheme year.
  • You should work with trustees to ensure there’s a procedure for dealing with complaints and members are told about it.

Who's entitled to information

The trustees of most pension schemes have to make information available about the scheme, including how it is run and the benefits it provides.

You may be asked to help trustees to ensure they make information available to:

  • members – including active members, pensioner members and deferred members
  • prospective members
  • husbands, wives or civil partners of members and prospective members
  • other people entitled to benefits under the scheme
  • independent, recognised trade unions

When to provide information

The people listed above can usually ask for general information about the scheme and the benefits it provides, free of charge, once in any 12-month period. New members must be sent this information when they join the scheme.

Trustees also need to provide information to individuals on other occasions either automatically or if they request it, eg when a member retires, dies or leaves the scheme. They may engage you to assist with this.

Sometimes scheme events will trigger the need to give information, eg the trustees must send out certain information when a scheme starts to wind up or members are being transferred to another scheme without their consent.

Trustees must also make specific items available on request and may need your help. This includes:

  • the scheme's trust deed and rules, although you only need to disclose those parts that are relevant to the individual's membership or the membership the union represents
  • actuarial valuations
  • the scheme's schedule of contributions
  • the scheme's statement of investment principles
  • the trustees’ annual report and accounts

Annual reports and accounts

Trustees must make their annual report and accounts available on request within 7 months of the end of each scheme year. Reports should describe how a scheme has been managed and any changes which have happened in the year. They must include, amongst other things:

  • a copy of the audited accounts and auditor's statement
  • details of the trustees and how they are appointed and removed
  • details of the scheme's professional advisers and fund managers
  • an investment report, including how the investments have performed
  • the number and breakdown of scheme members
  • the number of other people entitled to benefits under the scheme
  • details of pension increases and how they are worked out
  • an address for enquiries
  • the actuary's certification of the adequacy of the schedule of contributions

Resolving disputes with members

You may be asked to help trustees to put in place a formal arrangement for considering complaints between them and:

  • members
  • prospective members
  • someone entitled to benefits following a member’s death
  • individuals who were recently in one of these categories
  • individuals who claim to be in one of these categories

Scheme members must be told about the internal dispute resolution (IDR) procedure.

You may be asked to advise the trustees on implementing a procedure that best suits the scheme. However, decisions on disputes should normally be made within four months.

You may be asked to advise trustees as part of their regular review of their IDR procedure to ensure it’s working effectively.

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