THE PENSIONS ACT AT A GLANCE

An equal state pension age of 65 from 2020.

Occupational pension schemes must equalise benefits for men and women (including part-time workers).

Scheme members have the right to nominate up to one-third of pension scheme trustees.

The creation of the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra), to watch over pension schemes.

The powers of the Pensions Ombudsman are increased.

It imposes fines and imprisonment of trustees for certain offences.

Trustees must appoint scheme advisers such as actuaries and auditors.

Trustees must set up and operate internal dispute resolution procedures.

It sets up a Pensions Compensation Board and compensation scheme.

It introduces limited price indexation, whereby pension rights gained after 1997 are increased by at least the RPI up to 5 per cent.

After April 1997 contracted out (of the state earnings-related pension scheme Serps) final salary schemes must pass a new quality test. Guaranteed minimum pensions will be replaced by a "requisite benefits" test. Age- related rebates arrive for personal pensions and company money purchase schemes.

Actuaries and auditors will have whistle-blowing responsibilities.

A minimum funding requirement (MFR) will be phased in by 2007, with 90 per cent pre-funding needed by 2003. The MFR means the value of the pension scheme must be at least at a minimum level, based on the rights that people have in the scheme.

Employers will not be able to reduce rights that have already accrued to an individual scheme member.

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