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Number of master trusts that have pension clients

FOI reference - FOI 2017-01-31
Date - 31/01/2017

Request

Using the most recent convenient date please state how many master trusts you are aware of that have pension clients.

For each trust please state the name of the trust, how many clients and members it has and whether it operates under the automatic enrolment scheme.

Response

Please note that there is no legal definition for 'master trust' schemes. On registering a pension scheme with The Pensions Regulator (TPR), there is no requirement for the scheme to confirm whether or not it is a master trust.

I can confirm that we hold some information that falls within the scope of your request. However, I am unable to disclose the information you have requested for the reason set out below.

Information we are not able to supply

We must withhold the information you have requested because this is 'restricted information' under section 82 of the Pensions Act 2004 (PA04).

It may be helpful for me to explain what I mean by restricted information. As we have been given strong powers to demand documents and other information from trustees, employers and others, those powers are also balanced by restrictions on onward disclosure of information provided to us. Restricted information is defined at section 82(4) of the PA04 as 'information obtained by the Regulator in the exercise of its functions which relates to the business or other affairs of any person'.

The information you have requested is information we receive in the exercise of our statutory functions and is therefore restricted information. Section 82(5) of the PA04 provides that it is a criminal offence to disclose such information except as permitted under that Act.

Whilst the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) is based on the presumption of releasing information, there are exemptions to disclosure that must be applied if a particular disclosure is prohibited by another law. Section 44(1) (a) of the FoIA provides an absolute exemption to the requirement to disclose any information if its disclosure (otherwise than under the FoIA) is prohibited by or under any enactment. In this case, section 82 of the PA04 prohibits disclosure and we are unable to disclose the requested information. This exemption is also absolute and does not require a public interest assessment be undertaken.

Duty to provide advice and assistance

I am mindful of the duty to provide advice and assistance to requesters, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.

It might be useful for me to explain that in general, pension schemes with two or more scheme members must register with us. We treat the registration of a master trust scheme the same as the registration of any other trust-based scheme. During the scheme return we do ask a couple of questions to help us identify whether the scheme in question is likely to be a master trust but we do not set any unique scheme registration requirements for master trusts.

On our website we publish our master trust assurance list. This is a list of master trusts which have obtained independent assurance by meeting the master trust assurance framework.

Further information relating to inclusion on our master trust assurance list can be found at how to join or leave the master trust list.

Our July 2016 publication of automatic enrolment: commentary and analysis (PDF, 914kb, 45 pages) includes a breakdown of pension scheme members automatically enrolled by scheme type, splitting out DC trusts into master trusts and non-master trusts.

You might be interested to know that Professional Pensions are looking to compile a definitive list of pension master trusts in the UK.