Pension news

Despite keeping up to date with all Pension News as part of our 'Continuing Professional Development', we only list what we believe to be most relevant to those involved with SSASs here, but always welcome an informal chat about the wider industry on 01606 837695.

DB Transfer Suspension

27th March 2020

In their recently published guidance, The Pensions Regulator have allowed a suspension of DB transfers and CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) quotes for the next 3 months.

TPR - Trusteeship and Governance Consultation Response

10th February 2020

The TPR have issued their response to the recent consultation and their next steps are to:

1. Trustee knowledge and understanding: • To review and update TKU expectations in the code and related guidance. • To review the Trustee toolkit and identify areas of improvement, subject to budget and resource constraints. • We plan to consult on changes to TKU code content and provide an update on our Trustee toolkit to refect that content review in the early part of 2021.

2. Scheme governance structures: • To establish and lead an industry working group to develop guidance and practical tools, amongst other things, to support schemes in taking steps to improve diversity and inclusion on boards. • Support the APPT in the development of an industry code for sole trusteeship. • Commission further research to identify drivers for seeking, and the risks of, a sole trustee on schemes.

3. DC consolidation: • We will continue to monitor DC consolidation activity and work with both industry and the DWP to fnd solutions to overcome barriers to consolidation

TPR confirms to AMPS

7th August 2019

The Pensions Regulator has confirmed to the SIPP and SSAS trade body, the Association of Member Directed Pension Schemes, that the current consultation and proposed standards for professional trustees do not apply to SSAS' that are exempt from the Trustee Knowledge and Understanding requirements (i.e. SSAS' with less than 12 members, that are also the trustees and all investment decisions are made unanimously).

That said, The Pensions Regulator have still kept references to "Micro Schemes" in the consultation paper, so it's not quite as clear cut as their response suggests and certainly worth preparing for.

Future of Trusteeship and Governance Consultation launched

2nd July 2019

The Pensions Regulator published a consultation document yesterday with a heavy emphasis on the need for professional trustees to be accredited by them and a requirement for ALL schemes to have an accredited professional trustee (including micro schemes, aka SSASs).

We will be replying to this consultation directly and will update this page with the TPR's response, as soon as it's published.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is midday 24th September 2019.

TPR and APPT release Professional Trustee Standards

25th February 2019

The Pensions Regulator and The Association of Professional Pension Trustees have been working together as part of the Professional Trustee Standards Working Group (PTSWG) to publish new standards which all professional trustees will be expected to meet.

Whether the Professional Trustees of Small Schemes (known as Relevant Schemes under the Pensions Acts) will need to meet these standard. is still to be confirmed. The Association of Member Directed Pension Schemes (AMPS) have asked for clarification, but at first glance, it does appear that they will and this will be a huge step towards greater regulation of the SSAS market.

New Office!

11th February 2019

We have outgrown our old office at 87 Long Lane and moved to a newly refurbished suite at The White Horse Business Centre in Middlewich.

HMRC Newsletter 104

31st October 2018

HMRC have issued their 104th Pension Schemes Newsletter, which is quite a big one this time, a summary of the key issues effecting SSAS' is shown below:

- The Standard Lifetime Allowance is to increase from £1,030,000 to £1,055,000 on 6th April 2019

- New features are to be added to the new Manage and Register Pension Schemes services, including the ability to view Scheme's details, to view your own details as a Scheme Administrator, to associate a new Scheme Administrator and accept an association as a Scheme Administrator

- Unfortunately, we can't file AFTs (Accounting for Tax returns) as yet on the new service, but it will come. In the interim they advise emailing them at if you have an AFT to file

- Non-taxable Death Benefit payments can now be reported using RTI (Real Time Information) without triggering a pesky P6 code

- A reminder from HMRC that transferring schemes should only write to HMRC to check the registration status of a receiving scheme, if they have concerns and not as a matter of course

If you have any questions about how the changes might impact your SSAS, or for anything else that we might be able to help with then please call us anytime on 01606 837695

HMRC Newsletter 103

25th September 2018

HMRC have issued their 103rd Pension Schemes Newsletter reminding us all of the following:

- We (Scheme Administrators) must log into the old Pension Schemes Services and update our details ready for the migration across to the new Manage and Register Pension Schemes Services

- Some handy Tax code tips when operating pension PAYE

- That the reporting of Non-Taxable Death Benefits should remain as was in their Newsletter 78 (i.e. either don't report but keep proper records, or report and contact HMRC by email when you receive a P6 code)

- Annual claims for Relief at Source should be received by HMRC no later than 5/10/2018

- Pension Saving Statements must be issued to Members no later than 6/10/2018 

- UK Registered Pension Schemes do not need to register with HMRC's Trust Registration Service to meet their obligations under TMLTPandTOF Regulations

SSAS Administrator stuck on Life Support in Cambodia

4th September 2018

Charles McLaughlin who I had the pleasure of working with at Hornbuckle Mitchell and James Hay, is stuck on a life support machine in Cambodia following a massive stroke whilst taking a year out to travel.

Charles is one of the best SSAS Administrators around and was actually the person I looked up to and followed, when I made the move from SIPP to SSAS at Hornbuckle Mitchell.

The family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise the funds to bring him back to the UK.

Please take a look at the page and share with anyone you can? It's a small world and you may know someone who knows Charles, but hasn't been made aware of his situation yet and every £1 that's collected might be the last £1 needed to get him back ASAP.

Registering as a new Scheme Administrator

16th June 2018

Up until HMRC introduced their new online system earlier this month, registering as a new Scheme Administrator was quite a simple task. However, things have now changed and unfortunately the new link sends you round in circles.

There are two different processes depending on whether you're registering as a new Scheme Administrator for an existing SSAS (i.e. one with a PSTR starting with a 0), or you're registering as a new Scheme Administrator for a brand new SSAS (without a PSTR yet, or with a PSTR starting with a 2).


- For an existing SSAS, you'll need to contact HMRC's Pension Scheme Services  (0300 123 1079) to provide them with your name and email address so that they can send you a proforma to complete.

- For a new SSAS, you'll need to follow the link from their guidance page and register online, but unfortunately this link appears to be faulty and frustratingly sends you around in circles.

Hopefully, the link will be fixed very soon.

GDPR arrives tomorrow

24th May 2018

As we're sure everyone is fully aware of by now, the General Data Protection Regulations come into force tomorrow.

If you're having trouble applying the new rules to your SSAS or firm of SSAS Providers, then please feel free to call for an informal chat on 01606 837695

HMRC Trust Registration Service

10th April 2018

Trusts (such as SSASs) that become liable to certain tax charges will need to register with HMRC's Trust Registration Service by either the 5th October following the end of the tax year that the tax charge arose (for new registrations), or by the online self assessment filing deadline of the 31st January following the end of the tax year (for those trusts already registered).

For a list of The Relevant UK Taxes, please see the superb guidance issued by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners here.

If you need help registering your SSAS or you would like a free no obligation chat then please call us on 01606 837695

HMRC Powers Increased under Finance Act 2018

6th April 2018

The Finance Act 2018, that received Royal Ascent on 15th March 2018, granted new powers to HMRC from 6th April 2018, to de-register or refuse to register a pension scheme where a Sponsoring Employer has been dormant for a period of one month or more in the last 12 months.

To settle the nerves of those involved with bone-fide SSAS whose Sponsoring Employer/s may even have since been dissolved, HMRC have pledged to only use these new powers for the purpose intended by Parliament (i.e. in the fight against pension scams).

Finance (No.2) Bill 2017-19 - 2nd Reading

11th December 2017

If you've not heard about the Finance (No.2) Bill 2017-19 and what this means for a large number of SSAS, then please take a look at our article on Who Can Establish a SSAS on our Information & FAQs page.

In summary, this bill grants HMRC a great deal of power to both refuse to register and to de-register SSAS' that have or recently had a dormant sponsoring employer.

The bill is having it's second reading in the House of Commons today and it's progress can be tracked on the website.

To help, the relevant section for SSAS people is Schedule 3 on page 65.

Autumn Budget 2017

22nd November 2017

The Chancellor delivered his mini-budget on the 22nd November and there were some welcome surprises.


The biggest one was that he'd left Tax relief on Pension Contributions alone, for now.

And the second, was that the Lifetime Allowance is to increase annually by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and will be set at £1,030,000 for the 2018/19 tax year.

Please follow the link below to read the published version.

HMRC Policy Paper

13th September 2017

Following the Government's response to the Pension Scam Consultation, HMRC have issued their Policy Paper today to increase their powers to, de-register and refuse to register, Unauthorised Master Trusts and Occupational Schemes without an Active Sponsoring Employer, through amendments to the Finance Act 2004 via the Winter Finance Bill 2017.

If your SSAS has a Dormant Sponsoring Employer, or no Sponsoring Employer at all, then please call us to discuss your options on 01606 837695

Pension Scams: Consultation Response

21st August 2017

Well it’s finally here. The Government’s long awaited and well overdue plan following the Pension Scams Consultation.

The parts we’ve picked out:


  • 2.3 The Government intends to proceed with the proposal to legislate for a ban on cold calling in relation to pensions.


  • 2.8 The Financial Advice Working Group is developing new terms to describe ‘Advice’ and ‘Guidance’ to help consumers understand what financial advice can offer them.


  • 2.25 The Government intends to extend the ban on cold calling to all electronic communications about pensions.


  • 2.33 The Government does not intend to impose criminal sanctions and custodial sentences on those in breach of the ban on cold calling. And the reason is shown in 2.35 as being that, introducing a ban, without criminalising breaches will allow the ICO to take action immediately without having to consider the caller’s intent.


  • 2.37 The ICO’s powers are useless in dealing with firms located overseas.


  • 3.12 In deciding on whether a Member has a Statutory Right to a Transfer, the Government agrees that evidence of an employment link should be provided and that members should be primarily responsible for supplying it.


  • 3.22 The Government does not consider that there is a need to pursue the alternative option of a statutory discharge letter and cooling off period.


  • 3.23 Whilst the Government can see the attraction of TPR Authorisation, it would require rigorous assurance and regular monitoring of Schemes. They see the further regulation of Master Trusts as a trial run of TPR Authorisation.


  • 3.25 The Government is reluctant to introduce additional legislation compelling members to seek guidance, which members may see as another barrier to transferring their funds, but their is a pilot running by some larger providers.


  • 4.4 The Government is proposing to make it a requirement to have an active and participating Sponsoring Employer attached to all new and existing Registered Pension Schemes.


  • 4.9 The Government agrees that pension scheme members with relevant knowledge should be free to choose their own investments. The Government will not therefore pursue the option to require pensioner trustees at this stage.

  • Government confirms MPAA cut will be restrospective

    13th July 2017

    In a statement from Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, the Government has confirmed all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date.

    This will include the proposed reduction in the Money Purchase Annual Allowance from £10,000 to £4,000.

    Andrew Warwick-Thompson to leave the Pensions Regulator

    11th May 2017

    In a press release today, the Pensions Regulator has confirmed that Andrew Warwick-Thompson (a self confessed sceptic of all things SSAS) is to leave the regulator.

    HMRC Contact Details and the Pension Scheme Newsletter 86

    21st April 2017

    In their Pension schemes newsletter 86 HMRC have provided a number of updates confirming their:


    1) stance on in-specie contributions

    2) contact details (their email remains as, their address has changed to BX9 1GH for Pension Scheme Services and to NG2 1BB for Registrations)

    3) registration statistics which shows a decline from the previous year

    4) new forms are available for when Lump Sum Death Benefits are paid (must be done within 30 days of the payment)

    A sign of imminent Regulation for SSAS Administrators?

    24th February 2017

    In his blog on the 14th February the head of the Pensions Regulator, Andrew Warwick-Thompson, has proposed the removal of SSAS' from the pensions landscape, as an attempt to stop pension scams.

    Andrew's comments have left the industry stunned as we all know just how valuable those SSAS' are to Members, Employers and the Economy as a whole. Plus, the scammers use many different vehicles to carry out their crimes including SIPPs, Master Trusts and Overseas Pension Schemes, not just SSAS. 

    We at SSAS Reviews believe that this is nothing more than political tactics aimed at softening the blow of imminent regulation for Scheme Administrators. Regulation which we would welcome with open arms.

    HMRC revamps the 2011 GAD Drawdown Tables

    2nd February 2017

    In their Pension scheme newsletter today, HMRC have advised that they have amended the 2011 GAD Drawdown Tables, effectively removing the previous 2% "GAD Floor" from the tables. Those effected will be Pensioners whose benefits are subject to the Capped Income Drawdown Rules.

    For more information or to discuss these changes then please call 01606 837695 or drop us an email to 

    Pension Scams: Consultation

    5th December 2016

    The Government has issued a consultation document aimed at preventing pension scams.

    One of the main issues being raised, is the ability for newly incorporated dormant companies to establish Occupation Pension Schemes and how this is being used by the scammers as a way around the protections offered by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FCA Regulation). The consultation can be found by following the link below. 

    Autumn Statement 2016

    28th November 2016

    The Chancellor presented his Autumn Statement to Parliament last week.

    The main change for Pensioners was the drop to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, from £10,000 to £4,000, from April 2017. This will only effect those Pensioners who have flexibly accessed pension income (not just their Pension Commencement Lump Sum).

    In the Chancellor's pre-statement comments (in the press), he did mention tightening up the rules on dormant companies establishing SSAS', but unfortunately no statement was made to Parliament. Knowing how complicated the 'Employer' definition is, we would expect the clever law makers to need a substantial amount of time to get this one right and our finger's are crossed for FCA type regulation to drive the unscrupulous from our industry.

    HMRC Reminder - Protection from Lifetime Allowance changes

    15th November 2016

    HMRC have issued an email reminder about protecting your pension savings from changes to the lifetime allowance.

    Lots of information and the application forms can be found by visiting HMRC's dedicated web page (link below).

    DWP article signposts Members to Pension Wise

    6th October 2016

    The Department for Work and Pensions has issued an article explaining what Pension Wise is and who it's for.

    Make cold calling illegal

    26th September 2016

    A new petition has been started by some bright spark, to make it illegal to cold call anyone about their pensions or investments.

    We completely agree that this would dramatically reduce the amount of fraud / scams that happen every day in the uk.

    The petition can be found here or by clicking on the link below.

    In-specie Contribution scare!

    14th September 2016

    Recent enquiries, by HMRC, into tax reclaims made via Relief at Source (RAS) schemes has prompted many SIPP and SSAS Administration providers to hold off from accepting any more in-specie contributions. 

    Making and accepting in-specie contributions is an extremely complex area to get right and the recent actions of some providers to suspend this method of contributing is worrying for any member that has engaged in this type of transaction with them in the past, as it begs the question of Why?

    Here at SSAS Reviews, whilst keeping a keen eye on any developments from HMRC and across the indiustry as a whole, we are confident that our procedures for processing in-specie contributions are 100% Compliant and we will not be suspending them at this time.

    If you would like to discuss this in more detail then please feel free to either call us on 01606 837695 or to email

    Trustee Knowledge and Understanding

    27th July 2016

    The Pensions Regulator has issued a Consultation Paper on 21st Century Trusteeship and Governance, which can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

    It highlights the TPR's concerns that many Trustees (both Professional and Individual / Lay Trustees) do not  posses the required knowledge and understanding required to perform their duties correctly.

    From our establishment in 2014, we have urged all Lay Trustees to complete the free training and assessment offered by the Pensions Regulator via their Trustee Toolkit and feel that although this should not be the end of their training, it's an invaluable resource for those whose normal profession lies outside of Pensions.

    Fixed Protection 2016 and Individual Protection 2016

    21st July 2016

    HMRC are to issue the online application service on Thursday 28 July.

    For more information on Fixed Protection 2016 and Individual Protection 2016 please visit the link below, or call us on 01606 837695

    Panorama raises pension scam awareness


    The makers have done a good job in raising the general awareness, especially in only 30mins, but failed to name and shame the pension administrators facilitating the transfers to SIPPs and as we all know SSAS's too. *A quick google search throws up some interesting/worrying results*

    If you have suspicions about your current Pension Administrator and wish to discuss the options for your SSAS, then please call 01606 837695

    Regulator gears up to enforce Scheme Return compliance


    The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued warning emails to Trustees reminding them of their obligation to file a Scheme Return, in addition to the annual return with HMRC.

    The emails also warn the Trustees that the regulator has the power to issue fines for non-compliance and that previous returns may still remain outstanding.

    If you have any questions or queries regarding the TPR returns or anything else SSAS, then please call us on 01606 837695.

    HMRC updates Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes list


    HMRC has provided a further update to the list of Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes giving more options to savers looking to move their pension abroad.

    The fully updated list can be found here.

    AMPS Membership Confirmed


    We are very pleased to confirm that our application to join the Association of Member Directed Pension Schemes (AMPS) was accepted by their Committee over the bank holiday weekend.

    For more information about AMPS please visit

    To view our Member's page, then please click on the AMPS logo at the very top of the page.

    National Scams Awareness Month


    In support of the National Scams Awareness Month, the Pensions Regulator has produced a number of additional pieces of support material, aimed at helping Trustees and Members to identify Scams before any transfers are made and it’s too late.

    The relevant page from the Pensions Regulator’s website can be found here. If you’re a Member and finding the page a little confusing then the new example scenario can be found here and the latest Scorpion Information Booklet can be found here.

    If all this written information is still a little confusing and you’d prefer to discuss any concerns with a real person, then the Governments new and free Pension Wise service is there to help. Website: Contact Number: 0300 330 1001 or +44 20 3733 3495 {lines are open from 8am – 10pm everyday}

    Summer Budget 2015


    The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Mr George Osborne MP, read out his Summer Budget 2015 on Wednesday which contained two points directly affecting SSAS Members.

    1. From April 2016, high earners (those earning in excess of £150,000) are to receive an adjusted Annual Allowance based on their earnings. For every £2 of income above £150,000 their Annual Allowance will reduced by £1, down to a minimum Annual Allowance of £10,000 (for those earning £210,000 and above)

    2. The Government has produced a Consultation Paper on Pension Tax Relief (Green Paper) which could spell the end of Tax Relief on Pension Contributions (albeit in at least a few years, as these things do take time to become legislation)

    Regulator raises doubts over small scheme compliance

    24th June 2015

    Andrew Warwick-Thompson from The Pensions Regulator has raised concerns over whether small schemes will be able to meet their obligations in complying with the Regulator's Defined Contribution Governance Standards.

    The Governance Standards are set out in the Regulator's published Code of practice no. 13 and Scheme Managers are expected to test their Scheme's compliance with those standards at least annually, with the Chair Trustee producing a statement summarising how the Scheme meets certain standards and outlining any improvements necessary.

    For more information on these requirements and how we can help, then please call 01606 837695.

    Government threatens Pension Providers

    15th June 2015

    After learning that some of the larger Pension Providers are either; raising large charges on those wishing to access their benefits using the new Pension Freedoms, or refusing to offer the freedoms at all, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has urged providers to take responsibility for offering such freedoms and promised to name and shame those who insist on dragging their feet.

    Our clients can rest assured that their Schemes can offer the full range of Pension Freedoms without the need for any additional charges from SSAS Reviews.

    New Pensions Minister

    12th May 2015

    Pensions expert Ros Altmann is to replace Steve Webb as our Pensions Minister.

    As Ros is not an MP, she is to be appointed as a Conservative Peer to the House of Lords.

    Here at SSAS Reviews, we join the rest of the industry in congratulating the (soon to be) Lady Altmann in her appointment. Mr Webb did a sterling job, but it will be nice to have an Industry Expert in the ranks of the rule makers and we look forward to the Government taking sensible steps in the future (like removing the Lifetime Allowance altogether for Defined Contribution Schemes).

    Also in the recent pension news, is the fact that HMRC has issued 3 forms that Members can use for reclaiming overpaid Income Tax. Unfortunately (and as usual with HMRC), Members won’t be able to be pro-active and have their Tax Codes adjusted before they take their benefits and pay an astronomical amount of tax, but they will be able to complete the forms immediately after.

    For more information on which form you’re likely to need, please click here or call us on 01606 837695.

    Pension Tax Manual

    13th April 2015

    HMRC is to replace the Registered Pension Scheme Manual with a brand new Pensions Tax Manual.

    Whilst a final version isn’t expected until the summer, a draft version is available at

    Pension Freedoms are here!

    6th April 2015

    Pension Freedoms are here! All those looking to take benefits from today will have 4 main options:

    • Purchase an Annuity or enter into Scheme Pension

    • Enter into Flexi-access Drawdown

    • Take a number of cash sums at different stages

    • Take your entire pension pot as cash in one go

    Free and impartial guidance is now available from the Government’s new Pension Wise Team. If you would like more information on how you can make use of the new freedoms with your own SSAS then call us on 01606 837695.

    Pension Wise

    12th February 2015

    The Government’s new Pension Wise website went live yesterday, offering free information on pensions to the public. The site has received a mixed reception from the Industry, with many noticing that the technical details are quite confusing and that there are too few links to Adviser directories.

    In our opinion, the site is a step in the right direction, but let’s be honest, for the information not to be confusing to the masses and to cover every eventuality, the site would need to look like the Registered Pension Scheme Manual from HMRC and then it would be the site itself under fire. However, one great addition would be a page explaining the differences between ‘Guidance’, ‘Advice’ and ‘Execution Only’. That would really help the public appreciate the need for advice and to better understand what it is they’re actually paying for.

    If you are looking for an Adviser, then Unbiased is a great place to start. And for a little bed-time reading, you can’t beat the RSPM

    Pension Freedoms

    2nd February 2015

    From 6th April 2015, there will be more options available to those who wish to draw their benefits and less restrictions on the amount they can draw, as income each year. However, some Pensioners may be disadvantaged by the inflexibility of their current Schemes that will not offer all of the options available, Pensioners would then be forced into either continuing as they have been or into transferring their benefits elsewhere (at their cost!).

    If you are fortunate enough to have an Employer willing to establish a Scheme for you, then it is always worth bearing in mind the unrivalled flexibilities offered with a SSAS.

    The SSASs that we help to establish, allow their Members the full range of options when they come to take their benefits, combined with the additional investment options offered with any SSAS (for the funds that are to remain within the Scheme) and an Accurate & Efficient support service to keep everything in order.

    Our fees will also be a welcome surprise as they’re a fixed amount each year and, as we’re passionate about looking after SSASs, we do not charge any extra if you wish to use the Scheme (e.g. by drawing your benefits or making an investment).

    HMRC issues Fit & Proper Questionnaires

    23rd January 2015

    Following on from the Fit & Proper requirement for Scheme Administrators, introduced in September 2014, HMRC took the step in December of issuing over 2,000 questionnaires to the majority of registered Scheme Administrators.

    Let’s all hope that this is the start of HMRC combing the unscrupulous out of our industry and restoring confidence in Small Self-Administered Schemes.

    SSAS Reviews is yet to receive a questionnaire of this sort.

    Death Benefit Rule Changes

    6th October 2014

    It has long been a good strategy for Pensioners to leave as much of their fund Uncrystallised as they can in order to minimise the tax burden on the funds left to their Beneficiaries upon death, but come April 2015 not only will there be greater flexibility regarding how you can physically draw your pension (with the addition of the Uncrystallised Funds Lump Sum option and the removal of GAD Limits), but the Treasury are also planning to remove the 'Death Tax' that would become due on Crystallised funds paid out as a Lump Sum Death Benefit.

    This can only be good news for Pensioners, as it will give them more available options in planning for their retirement and their loved ones upon their death.

    For further information, please give us a call on 01606 837695

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