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Freeports: Pensions

Question for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

UIN 35865, tabled on 19 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what due diligence assessment was carried out on the pension liabilities of applicant firms as part of the Freeports bidding process.

Answered on

22 July 2021

The Freeport model will comprise a broad coalition of local partners, including businesses, local authorities and ports. Trustees and employers have a wide range of legal duties in respect of workplace schemes, including and are responsible for compliance with legislative funding requirements. The Pension Regulator is the regulator of work based pension schemes, and has a range of powers that it may use to intervene, and to take action, primarily against trustees and employers, where they do not comply with their duties.

As set out in the Bidding Prospectus, each Freeport was asked in their bid proposals to summarise their preferred governance structure. The Freeport Governance Body will need to meet core standards and criteria on governance, including compliance with MHCLG requirements on monitoring and evaluation. The Government is assessing the proposals and will work with the Freeports to ensure that governance is robust. The relevant public body (Local Authority or Authorities or Mayoral Combined Authority) of the Freeport Governance Body will be accountable to MHCLG for the expenditure and management of public money.

The Freeport Governance Body will be responsible for the effective delivery of the Freeport according to the economic strategy determined through the bidding process and the Freeport Governance Body will work with Government to ensure the Freeport stays aligned with national policy and delivers on its monitoring and evaluation commitments.

The Government recognises rigorous monitoring and evaluation will be key to the success of the Freeports. The Government fully intends to evaluate the impact of Freeports and will be publishing its monitoring and evaluation strategy in due course.

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