Pension scheme types

Produced by Tolley

The following Employment Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Pension scheme types
  • Registered pension schemes
  • Occupational pension schemes
  • Defined benefit arrangements
  • Money purchase arrangements / defined contribution schemes
  • Master trusts
  • NEST
  • Tax relief for contributions to occupational schemes
  • Group personal pension schemes
  • Personal pension schemes
  • More...

Pension scheme types

The main types of pensions arrangements in the UK are:

  1. occupational pensions, including master trust schemes such as the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST)

  2. personal pensions, including stakeholder pensions

This guidance note provides an overview of these schemes.

For more in this area in relation to public service pension schemes and coronavirus, see the Public service pension schemes and coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance note.

Registered pension schemes

Before summarising the types of scheme listed above, it is important to be aware that this guidance note discusses registered pension schemes only. A pension scheme is a registered pension scheme at any time when, either through having applied for registration and been registered by HMRC, or through acquiring registered status by virtue of being an approved pension scheme on 5 April 2006, it is registered under FA 2004, ss 153–159. See the Qualifying conditions for registering a pension scheme guidance note for more details.

Unregistered pension schemes do not enjoy the same favourable tax treatment as registered schemes. For details of unregistered schemes (also commonly referred to as 'unapproved schemes' which is the pre-6 April 2006 terminology), see the Employer Financed Retirement Benefit Schemes (EFRBS)guidance note (from 6 April 2006 Unapproved unfunded retirement benefit schemes (UURBS) and secured unfunded unapproved benefit schemes (SUURBS) have been covered by the EFRBS rules).

Occupational pension schemes

This is the generic name given to pension schemes that are established by the employer to provide retirement benefits to employees. They are now also known as workplace pension schemes.

There may be a single scheme for a group of employers or for part of the group. Sometimes when there is a takeover, the old scheme is 'frozen' and a new scheme started up for the merged entity.

With the exception of public service schemes, the assets of the occupational scheme are normally held in a trust fund, which makes it a funded arrangement. When the member leaves the employment he will normally be able to choose between transferring his rights

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