House of Commons committee tells Pensions Regulator to up its game after BHS

Helen Cahill
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A closed BHS store in Stoke-on-Trent (Source: Getty)

The MPs' committee that investigated the collapse of high street giant BHS has told the Pensions Regulator that it must be "nimbler" and "more assertive" to avoid a similar crisis in future.

The work and pensions committee has been pushing for reform of the pensions watchdog, but has said the body's response has been "light" and that it had not said when any changes will be put in place.

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Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, said that although the regulator had acknowledged it must change, actions, rather than words, were required to move things forward, because most pension scheme members could not rely on a public profile like BHS' to get a good deal.

"The Pensions Regulator is not to blame for the massive deficit of the BHS pension fund," Field said. "But it is clear that had the Pensions Regulator been equipped and prepared to take a more active interest in BHS, earlier, we need never have gone down this path."

Last night Frank Field was given an award by the Pensions Management Institute for his work on BHS

The committee has demanded that the Pensions Regulator must never wait two years to intervene when a company's deficit becomes unmanageable, as it did in the case of BHS.

The MPs are also pushing for the Pensions Regulator to have the power to hand out fines of up to three times the amount it must contribute to the pension deficit. If BHS had been punished in this way, the charge could have been as much as £1bn.

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