The proposed new Restructuring Plans raise key questions for pensions.
The fundamental starting point is that employers should seek to stand by their pension promise. However there are many employers for which the scheme deficit is just too large to ever realistically be paid. Many of those employers cannot meet the imminent insolvency test required for a current application to compromise under a Regulated Apportionment Agreement.
Some ask - Why not just let the employer continue as is?
But sometimes this twilight scenario can give rise not only to a fundamental brake on the success of the business but also members may find that the return they might get in the future is materially less than under a compromise today. Also the PPF deficit may be increasing every day.
As such there must be an argument to have a full new provision for pensions in the new insolvency regime. The test for compromise will need consultation but perhaps it could move from establishing "imminent insolvency" to showing that "there is no reasonable prospect that the pensions deficit will be met, taking into account amongst other things, the employer's financial position".
Restructuring Plan / Moratorium The government previously consulted on changes to the insolvency regime and announced plans in August 2018 to introduce new insolvency restructuring procedures. The legislation announced over the weekend will implement those proposed changes. New tools to be available to companies under the legislation are: a moratorium for companies giving them breathing space from creditors enforcing their debts for a period of time whilst they seek a rescue or restructure; protection of their supplies to enable them to continue trading during the moratorium; and; a new restructuring plan, binding creditors to that plan