Primary legislation is being introduced through the Westminster Public Service Pensions & Judicial Offices Bill (PSPJO Bill) to implement a deferred choice underpin within schemes. All eligible members will be treated equally and will be able to choose to receive pension scheme benefits from either scheme. Where necessary, payments will be backdated to 2015. Subject to final Assembly agreement the Bill will extend to devolved NI schemes.
Provisions for the deferred choice will be implemented by 1 October 2023 for all members. Schemes may implement provisions for deferred choice earlier where it is possible to do so.
In due course NI departments with responsibility for the devolved NI schemes will carry out consultations on more detailed scheme-specific changes to both prospective and retrospective scheme regulations.
Where the changes legislated for through the Bill produce disproportionate tax results that cannot be resolved through powers provided in the PSPJO Bill, further changes will be made in the upcoming Finance Bill and scheme regulations. For example, the current framework does not straightforwardly permit individuals to ask their pension scheme to settle Annual Allowance charges from previous tax years be reducing their future pension benefits (‘Scheme Pays’) – this is being addressed in the upcoming Finance Bill. Further details will be published on any further measures in due course.
What are the next steps after the legislation has been introduced?
It is intended that the provisions for the deferred choice underpin will be implemented by 1 October 2023, or earlier where schemes are able to implement legislative change and processes ahead of that date.