Press release

New chair for the Pensions Regulator

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Department for Work and Pensions announced today that Michael O’Higgins has been appointed as chair of The Pensions Regulator.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced today that Michael O’Higgins has been appointed as chair of The Pensions Regulator.  He will take up his post from 1 January 2011 for a three-year term.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webb said:

I would like to thank David Norgrove for his considerable contribution as chair since The Pensions Regulator was established.  Under his leadership the Regulator has established itself as a vital player in the pensions landscape, protecting members’ benefits and ensuring schemes are well administered. I have every confidence that Michael O’Higgins will take this work forward as we introduce automatic enrolment into workplace pensions.

 Michael O’Higgins said:

Pensions issues affect everyone, young and old, and are rarely out of the news. I look forward to getting my teeth into the many challenges.

At the top of my in-tray will be helping employers get to grips with their new duties to auto enrol staff from 2012, that all types of pension scheme are well run with members’ interests at the centre, and that risks to members and the Pension Protection Fund are properly managed. I would also like to thank David Norgrove for all the successful work he has done in these areas.

Under revised remuneration arrangements, the salary for the post will be £57,000 for two days a week and there is no entitlement to bonus payments.

David Norgrove, the current chair, will leave The Pensions Regulator on 31 December 2010 when his second term in the post comes to an end.

A recruitment exercise is underway to select The Pensions Regulator’s new Chief Executive. Bill Galvin is the Regulator’s Acting Chief Executive. Mr Galvin replaced Tony Hobman in May this year when he left to take up post as Chief Executive of the Consumer Financial Education Body.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Primary legislation requires DWP’s Secretary of State to appoint a Chair of The Pensions Regulator. It also requires The Pensions Regulator to appoint a Chief Executive, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State.
  2. Recruitment to the post of Chairman of The Pensions Regulator is regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. It follows the Code of Practice published by the Office of the Commissioner of Public Appointments, which is designed to ensure a fair and open competition.
  3. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK, with objectives to protect members’ benefits, promote good administration and reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund. Its approach is risk-based focusing on education and enablement, with enforcement where appropriate. It has the ability to:
    • collect information about pension schemes; through scheme returns, under the scheme funding regime and as well as statutory (including whistleblowing) reports;
    • issue notices requiring actions to tackle non-compliance, prohibit trustees who are judged not fit and proper to carry out their duties or appoint independent trustees;
    • direct pension schemes as to how to calculate their liabilities and the contributions required;
    • issue a contribution notice where there is an attempt to avoid liabilities, or a financial support direction where the employer is a service company or insufficiently resourced.
  4. Michael O’Higgins has been Chairman of the Audit Commission since October 2006, and is also a Non-Executive Director of HM Treasury and Chair of the Treasury Group Audit Committee. Michael is also the Chair of the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, having been on its Board of Trustees since 2002. He was recently appointed a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Bath.

Previously, Michael was a Managing Partner with PA Consulting, a partner at Price Waterhouse, worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris and held academic posts at the University of Bath, the London School of Economics, Harvard University and the Australian National University.