The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has promised to act quickly when it identifies problems with defined benefit (DB) schemes.

In its corporate plan for 2017-2020 TPR also said master trust regulation would be a priority. 

TPR will spend an additional £7.9 million in 2017-18 compared to last year, £3.5 million of which will be spent on the implementation of a master trust authorisation regime and an increase in frontline resources to tackle defined benefit failures more efficiently.

The remainder is associated with the continued roll-out of automatic enrolment duties to employers. 

TPR has promised to deliver more interventions more quickly where DB schemes are underfunded or avoidance is suspected. 

The report states: 'This year we will again be placing more of the resources available to us in our frontline regulation teams. We’ll also be placing more focus on proactive casework, and improving the way we identify cases that present the biggest risks to members, intervening early before recovery plans are submitted.'

TPR will also be placing a greater emphasis developing its approach and interactions with smaller schemes.

A dedicated team will be established to supervise master trusts, and an authorisation regime will be in place to ensure that they work towards achieving authorisation when necessary, allowing TPR to identify risks in individual schemes early.

Other risk areas identified include poor outcomes for members and sponsors of smaller DB and DC schemes that 'cannot benefit from economies of scale', the slow increase of governance and administrative standards, the impact of poor-record keeping and variable investment conditions resulting from political and market uncertainty. 

TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb (pictured) said: 'Going forward we will be intervening more frequently and acting faster. Workplace pension schemes play a vital role in the retirement plans of millions of people and we have an important role in protecting their benefits.

'In order to meet our revised objectives we need to invest in our systems, as well as enhance the number and potential of our people – particularly our frontline regulatory teams and the specialist advisers who support them.'

TPR'S corporate plan has been refined from 10 priorities last year to a clearer and more concise eight this year. These are: 

1. Successfully complete the remaining stages of the roll-out of AE to small and micro employers.
2. Deliver more interventions, more quickly, where defined benefit schemes are underfunded or avoidance is suspected.
3. Protect customers through the effective regulation of master trusts.
4. Drive up standards of record-keeping and data maintenance, including public service schemes.
5. Be clearer in our codes, guidance and other interactions with schemes and employers about what we expect them to do.
6. Drive up standards of trusteeship across all schemes, with a particular focus on chairs and professional trustees.
7. Develop and implement our enhanced approach to regulation.
8. Create high performing teams of people across TPR with the skills and capabilities to deliver all of the above.