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Covid-19 pensions guidance

Leading bodies have issued guidance on the implications of Covid-19 for pension scheme financial reports and audit.


The guide has been prepared jointly by: 

–   the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) 

–   the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) 

–   the Pensions Research Accountants Group (PRAG).

The new guidance supports pension scheme auditors to navigate the additional challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic and pensions trustees and accounts preparers will also find it useful. Christine Scott, Head of Charities and Pensions at ICAS, said, ‘The impact of coronavirus means it can't be business as usual for pensions schemes and their auditors. Our new guidance has been developed to help navigate the additional challenges that may arise.

As well as referring to our guide, pension schemes and their auditors should continue to apply existing standards and guidance and keep up to date with new Covid-19 related announcements and guidance from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Andrew Penketh, Chair of ICAEW Pensions Sub-Committee, said, ‘The coronavirus crisis has brought about new challenges for trustees, accountants and auditors in the preparation and audit of the annual report and accounts of pension schemes. This joint guide will help navigate these challenges so that key issues and accounts disclosures are considered and dealt with in an appropriate and timely way.’

‘Every trustee should read and act on this advice. Pension schemes need holistic, all-round protection to reduce the impact that an attack would have (and to be assured that their suppliers also have the required protection). The key is to be as secure as possible but to plan for a cybercrime attack happening and to be ready to manage and mitigate any damage.’

Shona Harvie, Chair of the PRAG Executive, said, ‘This guidance aims to provide the pensions industry with a joined-up approach to addressing the impact of Covid-19 on pension scheme accounts. In conjunction with this, PRAG will be issuing updated going-concern guidance for pension schemes following the recent revision to International Standard on Auditing (ISA) (UK) 570 Going Concern.’

About the guidance  

The new guide is relevant to private sector occupational defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) trust-based pension schemes in the UK, including hybrid schemes and DC master trusts, applying Financial reports of pension schemes: a statement of recommended practice (the Pensions SORP), published by the Pensions Research Accountants Group (PRAG). The guide covers a wide range of topics including: 

–  responsibilities for reporting to TPR 

–  the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the control 

–  environment of pension schemes • the trustees' report and the chair's statement 

–  going concern and the trustees' assessment of going concern 

–  accounting for scheme investments 

–  events after the end of the reporting period 

–  audit issues 

–  the auditor's statement about contributions. 

The full guide can be accessed online: Pension scheme reports and financial statements, and related matters in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Notes to editors: 

For more information, please contact Evelyn Wilkins ICAS Communications and Content Manager 

Telephone: 0131 347 0288 

Email: [email protected]

About ICAEW 

There are over 1.8m chartered accountants and students around the world - talented, ethical and committed professionals who use their expertise to ensure we have a successful and sustainable future. Over 181,500 of these are ICAEW Chartered Accountants and students. We train, develop and support each one of them so that they have the knowledge and values to help build local and global economies that are sustainable, accountable and fair.

About ICAS 

ICAS is a professional body for more than 22,000 world-class business men and women who work in the UK and in more than 100 countries around the world. Members have all achieved the internationally recognised and respected CA qualification (Chartered Accountant). ICAS is an educator, examiner, regulator and thought leader. Almost two thirds of ICAS' working membership are in business, many leading some of the UK's and the world's great companies. The others work in accountancy practices ranging from the Big Four in The City to the small practitioner in rural areas. 

About PRAG 

PRAG is a leading independent industry body working for the development of occupational pensions schemes, with a focus on financial reporting and internal controls. PRAG is a body of accountants and professionals working in the pensions industry. PRAG is the body recognised by the Financial Reporting Council for the publication of the accounting guidance through the Pensions Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) which is a significant focus of its activities. PRAG also issues guidance on other topical areas and responds to consultations on areas affecting occupational pension schemes.