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Introduction to our regulatory approach

In meeting our statutory objectives, we seek to be risk-based and proportionate, while minimising burdens on the regulated community (employers, trustees, intermediaries, pensions and payroll professionals) where possible. Our operational approach is to educate, enable and enforce.

We work closely on both strategic and operational pensions matters with a number of government and regulatory bodies to pool knowledge and co-ordinate efforts.

In undertaking our work we take account of the Regulators’ Code, which came into force in April 2014, and the principles of good regulation set out in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. That is to be: proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted (PACTT). We track and evaluate our performance against these principles.

We have a range of powers, which we use to deliver on our objectives. These include the Pensions Acts 2008, 2004 and 1995, and the Pension Schemes Act 1993.

Our main areas of regulatory focus are: defined benefit (DB) regulation; defined contribution (DC) regulation, governance and administration; and automatic enrolment. From 2015, we will have additional responsibility for regulating the governance and administration of public service pension schemes. View our latest Corporate plan for details on our current priorities within these areas.

Regulatory principles

To make clear what the regulated community can expect from us, we have developed principles in the following areas:


As a risk-based regulator, we consider risk throughout the decision-making process. We allocate our resources based on an assessment of priority risks in the context of our statutory objectives and focus on those areas where our actions are likely to have the greatest impact.

Through our information gathering, research capability and analysis of operational data and intelligence, we monitor the regulatory landscape for risks and emerging trends. Where appropriate, we proactively intervene to prevent these from crystallising or to minimise their effect.

We work alongside other regulators and government agencies to share information on risks of mutual interest. We do this through both formal, regular engagement and where required by particular circumstances.

Our effectiveness and impact are evaluated using key performance indicators set out each year in our Corporate plan. We regularly review our approach to risk and we seek to publish details of our approach periodically.

Our risk appetite statement sets out how we balance risk and opportunity in pursuit of achieving our objectives.

Education and enablement

We recognise that the best way to support the regulated community to understand and fulfil its obligations is to provide appropriate guidance and tools.

In keeping with the Government’s digital by default strategy, our primary point of contact is online through our website. Anyone can sign up to news-by-email to be kept up to date with changes and new initiatives in areas of interest.

The materials we produce are targeted at specific groups within the regulated community. They include:

Where appropriate, we work with other regulatory and government bodies to facilitate a co-ordinated approach to education and guidance. This includes working closely with our sponsoring department the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as well as the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Financial Conduct Agency (FCA), among others. For more information, go to our partnerships.

Additionally, we seek to work proactively and flexibly with employers, providers and trustees to resolve non-contentious issues. This includes taking steps to identify potential problems at an early stage and enabling our key audiences to find solutions, which may sometimes include the use of our powers.


We have a number of enforcement options available to us.

Depending on the circumstances, we assess what, if any, regulatory action should be taken. In deciding how far it is appropriate to use our powers, we act fairly and proportionately. We aim to conduct and conclude regulatory actions in an efficient and timely manner.

Decisions to exercise our regulatory powers are taken by those with delegated authority or, where powers are reserved, by the Determinations Panel, a committee of the regulator. Many of the regulator’s decisions are reviewable. For further information, go to procedures for cases.

We publish enforcement policies in relation to specific risks and we also publish strategies and policies in respect of our main areas of regulatory focus. For more information go to strategy and policy.

Stakeholder engagement, consultation and transparency

We engage with a range of stakeholders including representatives of employers, pension providers and advisers, trustees, legal professionals and consumer and member organisations. We seek to have an effective dialogue with our stakeholders and to gain their support in delivering our statutory objectives. We value their views and their feedback on the impact of our regulatory activities. We engage with them through a variety of channels, including our stakeholder advisory panel, our annual stakeholder conference and many other formal and informal discussions on our regulatory approach and policy.

When carrying out consultations, we take due account of the Government’s consultation principles (PDF, 55.9kb, 3 pages).

We are committed to being open and transparent in our activities, which may include publishing Regulatory Intervention reports under section 89 of the Pensions Act 2004 on our considerations in particular cases. For more details on the classes of information we make available, view our publication scheme. As a public body we also are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Additionally, we seek to make the statistical information we have collected in the exercise of our functions available to the public. Our strategy in this area sets out how we make decisions regarding what statistical data to publish, how we share such data with other bodies and on what basis we make decisions to withhold sensitive statistical data. Download our statistical data publication strategy (PDF, 103kb, 8 pages).

We are in regular contact with our stakeholders and we take steps to track industry perceptions of our performance through annual surveys. This includes a customer satisfaction survey which rates our performance within the areas of scheme information management, customer support and online services.

We publish details on how we have performed each year across all areas in our annual report and accounts.

You can contact us through our website. We welcome feedback on our policies, guidance and approach at any time.

Information management

We hold information gathered from a range of sources. As well as case information (such as evidence), this includes scheme returns, recovery plans and the automatic enrolment declaration of compliance (registration) system. We also provide a straightforward and secure way for whistleblowers to report concerns. Go to our dedicated online whistleblowing forms.

We gather and analyse other information through a range of operational processes. We regularly review these processes to better manage our data collection methods, to assess the impact of our future decisions around data collection and to limit regulatory burden where possible. We follow a principle of collect once, use many times when requesting information. For further information, go to collecting data.

Where the law allows, we have secure mechanisms in place with other regulators and government bodies to exchange information. These bodies include the PPF, HMRC, the FCA and the DWP. We seek to pool data where possible, co-ordinate resources and minimise duplication. For more information, view our framework agreements and memoranda of understanding.

Notwithstanding our commitment to transparency, most of the information we obtain through carrying out our functions is subject to statutory restrictions on disclosure under the Pensions Act 2004. Information may also be subject to other legal restrictions on disclosure and use.

All information (including any evidence) gathered by the regulator which amounts to personal data is held securely and disposed of in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. For more information on how we handle personal data, view our privacy notice.

Download our document and records management system policy statement (PDF, 26.9kb, 3 pages).

Regulatory layers diagram

The diagram below is a visual representation of how our core regulatory materials interact.

A visual representation of how The Pensions Regulator's core regulatory materials interact