If you're worried about your pension - perhaps you've heard that the company which funds your scheme is in trouble, or it's already become insolvent - it can be a very challenging time.
We protect millions of people throughout the United Kingdom who are members of defined benefit pension schemes, to make sure they’ll be looked after if the employer responsible for funding the scheme they’ve paid into fails.
If the employer whose scheme you paid into doesn’t have enough funds to enable the scheme to pay you the pension it promised, we'll provide compensation in place of your pension.
We’re proud of the work we do. Without us, many people would face significant financial hardship.
Who do we protect?
We protect members of defined benefit pension schemes, often known as final salary schemes.
What happens if your scheme's employer becomes insolvent?
We don’t take on a pension scheme as soon as an employer becomes insolvent. Instead, we start what we call the ‘assessment period’.
How do we protect pensions?
Read our 'What is the Pension Protection Fund' booklet, below, to learn more about what we do and how we protect your pension.
Concerned that your employer might become insolvent?
If you’ve heard that the company which sponsors your defined benefit pension scheme may be in financial difficulty or is facing a major change or ‘event’ – such as a restructure, sale, or potential insolvency – you might understandably have concerns about your pension.
In these circumstances, if you have queries about your pension you should speak to your scheme trustee or administrator. They will tell you about any important developments relating to your pension.
If your company were in future to become insolvent and your scheme enters PPF assessment, the trustee will remain responsible for communicating with you and other members throughout the assessment period.
Think carefully before transferring out your benefits
If you're a member of a defined benefit (DB) scheme which is not in a PPF assessment period, you might be able to transfer out your benefits into an alternative pension arrangement, such as a defined contribution pension. To check this, speak to your scheme trustee or administrator.
Since the introduction of pension freedoms in 2015 which gave people aged 55 and over greater flexibility about when and how to draw their defined contribution pension savings, more DB scheme members have exercised their right to transfer out.
It's important to think carefully before opting to transfer out your benefits from a DB pension scheme. This is even more vital at times of uncertainty or if you have concerns about the stability of your company. You should be especially wary if anyone approaches you directly to offer transfer advice at a time your employer is reported to be in financial distress – it could be a scam.
Official guidance says it's in the best interests of most people to stay in their DB pension. Making a well-informed decision is vital – it’s important to understand the risks. If you decide to transfer out you typically can’t reverse it and you’ll be giving up both a valuable level of predictability in your retirement income and the protection we provide in the event of employer insolvency.
The Financial Conduct Authority and the Pensions Regulator have published information to help you understand the value of a defined benefit pension and what to think about if you are considering transferring out of a DB pension scheme.
To help you consider your pension choices, you can get free, impartial guidance from MoneyHelper.
You can also use an independent financial adviser to help you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances. Obtaining independent advice is a legal requirement if you're considering transferring out of your DB scheme, and the value of your safeguarded pension pot exceeds £30,000.
MoneyHelper have a guide on choosing a financial adviser to get you started. Before speaking to an adviser, it's important to check they are authorised and regulated to help you. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have a register of authorised financial advisers.
Once a company which sponsors a DB pension scheme becomes insolvent and the scheme enters an assessment period, by law, it's generally not possible to transfer out your benefits.
Beware of pension scams
Pension scams have a devastating effect on victims and many lose their hard-earned life savings. Once scammers have got hold of your pension money, it's almost impossible to get it back.
Pension scams can take many forms – one tactic is by persuading you to cash in your pension pot for them to ‘invest’, often with the promise of high returns and low risk. If you're a member of a DB scheme, this might involve a scammer encouraging you to transfer out your benefits in order to give them the money.
For information on how to avoid becoming a victim of a pension scam, visit the FCA’s ScamSmart hub. If you believe you may have already fallen victim to a pension scam, you should report it to Action Fraud.
You can also book a ‘Pension Loss Appointment’ with MoneyHelper to speak to a trained specialist. Although it's unlikely you’ll be able to recover all of your money, there might be a chance to recover some of it. They will be able to help identify whether you might be able to claim compensation or recompense.