Sir Steve Webb“One of the most striking features of the new statement is the tougher language around companies paying large dividends when their pension scheme is in significant deficit. Pension scheme members are understandably concerned when their pension scheme is well short of the money needed to pay their pensions if they see large amounts of money going out of the business in dividends. While there is nothing wrong in companies paying dividends, it is good to see the regulator putting greater pressure on firms to make sure that sorting out the hole in the pension scheme gets the attention it deserves.”– Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London TPR has been scrutinising dividend payments and scheme funding arrangements as part of its ‘clearer, quicker, tougher’ approach to regulation, rolled out last year after severe criticism from politicians in the wake of the high-profile collapses of BHS and Carillion.The regulator also urged schemes to set out more specific long-term goals for improving funding and securing member benefits – one of the main elements of the government’s reform proposals, currently under consultation.David Fairs, TPR’s executive director of regulatory policy, analysis and advice, said: “In order to support schemes we are setting out what we expect trustees and sponsoring employers to consider on funding, investment and covenant.“The annual funding statement will help them think about the risks facing their scheme, to consider what levels of risk are acceptable and how to mitigate risks where appropriate.“Trustees have fed back to us that they find this clarity helpful in negotiating good outcomes for members and avoiding interventions and action from TPR.“We have taken a tough stance on schemes that have not been treated fairly and will continue this approach where members’ benefits are under pressure.”‘Covenant leakage’TPR said it was “concerned” about the imbalance between payments to company pension schemes and dividends paid to shareholders, as well as other forms of “covenant leakage”.“Recent corporate failures have highlighted the risk of long recovery plans while payments to shareholders are excessive relative to deficit recovery contributions,” the regulator said.TPR has already contacted a number of schemes that were at risk of losing out relative to shareholders, quizzing them on funding approaches and negotiations with sponsoring employers. It indicated that it would continue to make such interventions at a greater number of schemes “where we do not believe that their valuations reflect an equitable position relative to other stakeholders”.The regulator also vowed to engage with a number of schemes this year if recovery periods were considered to be “unacceptably long”, and warned trustee boards to expect communications in the coming months.“While some trustees may not consider their current recovery plan to be long, we will be looking at both the maturity and the covenant of the employer in forming a view on what we consider to be an acceptable recovery plan length,” TPR said.Consultancy firm Hymans Robertson estimated that one in five FTSE 350 companies with DB schemes were at risk of intervention from TPR.The full annual funding statement is available on the regulator’s website.The industry responds Dan Mikulskis, LCP“For weaker sponsors, there is always going to be a very difficult balance to be struck between the interests of pensioners and the ongoing solvency of the company. It is a hard area to regulate but we believe it is important to recognise that in many cases pension scheme trustees are a key stakeholder in the ongoing company, and should be recognised as such – the expectations suggested by the regulator around dividend payments help to achieve this.”– Dan Mikulskis, partner at LCP“Given the desire to strengthen DB pensions funding, the regulator’s robust stance makes perfect sense. It is challenging employers to fund pension schemes ahead of paying shareholders. But it will create challenges for business, and some employers may be surprised by how much the ground is shifting. Many companies will need to give a higher priority to pensions funding and risk management than they do today and some will come under pressure to either increase pension contributions or cut dividends.”– Mike Smedley, pensions partner at KPMG“Businesses with pension scheme valuations this year will be under considerable pressure to pay higher contributions to their pension scheme. This will be incredibly unwelcome for those who are wrestling with tough trading conditions or Brexit-related uncertainty. If businesses are struggling, TPR will be highly likely to intervene to put the interests of pensioners ahead of investors… All trustees are going to have to work harder to demonstrate to TPR that the risks they are running can be supported by the business their scheme relies on.”– Patrick Bloomfield, partner at Hymans Robertson Jenny Condron, Association of Consulting Actuaries“Sponsors, trustees and their advisers need to be assured that the changing approach will not herald an overly inflexible one and that the regulator will remain proportionate in using its powers, particularly those situations where employers are engaged in corporate restructuring – often with the specific aim of enhancing the organisation’s future prospects and therefore the covenant supporting the pension scheme.”– Jenny Condron, chair of the Association of Consulting Actuaries The UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) is to visit more defined benefit (DB) schemes and make more interventions as part of a “robust” new approach to supervising the sector.In its annual funding statement, published this morning, TPR stated that it would take a much firmer stance on the ratio of dividend payments to DB scheme contributions.Weaker employers should pay more into their schemes than to shareholders, TPR said, while companies that were unable to support their schemes should not be paying dividends at all.If a company paid dividends greater than the amount paid to its pension scheme, the regulator said it would “expect a strong funding target” and a short deficit recovery period.
JonahAfter watching the Badgers’ continuous miscues and failures throughout the past season, it only makes sense for head coach Bret Bielema to make a serious change.Entering his fourth season as head coach, he can choose to start another senior or he can take a chance for some high risk, high reward.I’m talking, of course, about Curt Phillips.If you don’t think he can do as good a job as Allan Evridge, Dustin Sherer or Scott Tolzien, I don’t know what football team you’ve been watching for the past five months.Phillips has all the tools to bring the UW football team back to the top of the Big Ten.Next year, Phillips will be a redshirt freshman, and if Bielema chooses to give him some playing time, he’ll have an experienced quarterback for four straight years, something we have yet to see in his three years as head coach.Having an experienced quarterback who has already worked out all his kinks at the position will be more beneficial to the Badgers down the line than another appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl led by Sherer.If Bielema learned from his mistakes this past season, he would know one season isn’t enough to bring a quarterback from first-year starter to team MVP. It’s a long process, and Phillips could be the talent and leader for years to come.If the UW Athletic Department is willing to give Bielema another chance to continue to “learn,” Bielema should also let Phillips get a chance to learn — it will benefit them both in the long run.So, if you want Sherer or Tolzien, then mediocrity you shall receive. But just like in this past presidential election, change is the key. For Wisconsin, that key is Curt Phillips.BenNow that P.J. Hill has officially declared for the NFL Draft, the biggest question concerning the Wisconsin football team is who is going to be starting under center come this fall. Obviously, current quarterback Dustin Sherer’s performance this year during the regular season and his tremendous flop during the Champs Sports Bowl disqualifies him from any chance of being the starter during the 2009 campaign.So, who should start?With senior Allan Evridge graduating, that leaves the depth chart down to three other choices than Sherer — redshirt freshman Curt Phillips, sophomore James Stallons and sophomore Scott Tolzien.Traditionally, to be a Wisconsin quarterback, your main skill needs to be handing the ball off. However, with the emergence of speedy wide receiver David Gilreath, second-generation Badger Nick Toon and the return of tight end Garrett Graham should supply the incumbent quarterback with plenty of weapons.With that in mind, Tolzien should be the next starting quarterback. Coming in for Sherer during the loss against Iowa, Tolzien looked poised despite playing from behind. He managed to go 4-7 for 90 yards and had 10 yards on the ground, including a rushing touchdown.While others may think head coach Bret Bielema should pass over Tolzien and go directly to Phillips, who came into the program as the nation’s No. 10 quarterback, it still takes some time to learn the college game and have in-game experience. Tolzien already has some playing time and has proven, despite limited experience, he has potential to be a good quarterback.If Bielema chooses Tolzien over Phillips, Stallons or Sherer, he should get an upgrade from his current situation. If not, any of the candidates can still revert to the time-honored tradition of a UW quarterback — handing the ball off. read more
Follow us on Twitter @dailytrojan Latino/a Social Work Caucus, USC Latino Graduate Student Association and El Centro Chicano jointly hosted a traditional Latino Dia de los Muertos ceremony that involved a discussion of gang violence on Thursday morning.At 10:50 a.m. Thursday morning, 10 performers in traditional Mexican garb and carrying traditional Mexican instruments arrived at Tommy Trojan. As a crowd gathered, the performers began a ceremonial cleansing with smoke, as they started to dance, play drums and blow into a conch shell.After a few songs, the performers and audience proceeded to El Centro located in the Student Union, where the dialogue on gang violence began.Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 that honors family members who have passed away. The Dia de los Muertos altar at the front of the El Centro stage was a sobering reminder of the dangers of gang violence.Though this is an annual event for El Centro, Thursday marked the first time it was not held in the United University Church because of the recent administrative decision to move El Centro to the Student Union. William Vela, director of El Centro, said the change forced minor adjustments to the program to accommodate the smaller space of the new location.Chicano activists Alex Aldana, William “Blinky” Rodriguez and Joseph Sanchez all spoke at the event.Aldana opened the discussion with a testimony on his upbringing in gang violence.“For me it all started in October of 1988. There was a series of shootings in my community. I was a firsthand witness. The first happened across the street from where I lived. All because of a gang war between Santa Monica and Culver City,” Aldana said. “I was only 13 years old at the time, but I had to do something about it.”Aldana’s nonprofit, the Pico Youth and Family Center, specializes in hosting youth events in order to instill cultural history in the Latino community. He believes that the answer to issues of violence is the arts. He argued that the ban on ethnic studies in Arizona has led to increased gang violence.“Don’t teach them about Columbus, teach them about the cultura. We don’t know our history,” Aldana said.Rodriguez spoke next. His involvement in the fight against gang violence began on February of 1990, when he received a call from the hospital.“‘Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez, we have a body in room two with no identification.’ That’s where I see my son’s feet hanging out from under a white sheet, and I know my son’s feet,” he said.Since his son’s death, Rodriguez has been passionate about solving the issue of gang violence. He said he believes that the problem doesn’t come from the system, but from “the homies.”“There are good ‘homies,’ and there are bad ‘homies,’” Rodriguez said, adding that he hopes that through sports outings designed to unite rival gangs, the “bad homies” will become “good homies.”The third speaker, Sanchez, said he believes the issue of gang violence stems from broken home life.“We don’t have a youth problem. We have an adult problem,” Sanchez said.He showed a picture of a boy he has worked with and explained that kids give him his purpose.“This generation is key for executing this change,” Sanchez said.Rodriguez echoed the need for the next generation to join the effort to eliminate violence.“We need your heart and your mind. If it’s just an intellectual premise, you’re gonna run out of gas,” he said.Despite the seriousness of this issue, the event ended on an optimistic note. Rodriguez will continue to host inter-gang rallies, Sanchez’s juvenile hall program will be funded by Katy Perry this year and Aldana has forged an alliance with Santa Monica College’s film program.Students echoed the optimism of the speakers.“I think that humanity should help each other more,” said Juan Cruz, a first-year master’s student studying social work. “I don’t care if you’re Latino, black, white, whatever skin color you are. We should be helping each other out.”Vela said that part of the motive behind the caucus was to connect students with each other.“Our main goal is to support them in their progress and in their growth at USC, ultimately to graduate,” Vela said of the event’s mission. “This event is important to the Centro because of the cultural significance, but also for the undergraduates to become more connected to the graduate students.” read more
After a few attempts at the challenge, things started to go awry — and the shenanigans between Barkley and O’Neal began.Barkley threw an egg at O’Neal, who was bent over, and the egg splattered directly on his head.The egg from every angle 🎯😂 pic.twitter.com/0WVPIcQz93— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 4, 2019The best part? O’Neal never even EGGspected it. (Sorry, I had to.) Charles Barkley hit Shaquille O’Neal in the head with an egg during “Inside the NBA” on Tuesday night.The former NBA stars turned analysts were attempting to complete a viral Tik Tok challenge that involves throwing an egg into the air and waiting for it to hit someone in the head. The Inside Guys take on a Tik Tok Challenge 🤣😭 pic.twitter.com/GlKEwkMcsx— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 4, 2019MORE: Refs admit James Harden’s dunk should have counted in loss to Spurs read more