1. General information about the survey
Selection for the FSPS
A new sample has been selected from Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022. If selected, you will need to complete the survey for at least six quarters, up to and including Quarter 3 (Jul to Sep) 2023. A new sample will be selected from Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023.
For the new sample (and for future samples until further notice), the following principles apply:
if you are a public sector scheme (or section), including a Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) fund, you will be reselected and remain in the survey permanently
if you are a master trust, you will be reselected and remain in the survey permanently
if you are a private sector defined benefit (DB) or hybrid scheme or section with 10,000 or more members, it is highly probable that you will be reselected
if you are a private sector defined contribution (DC) scheme or section with 25,000 or more members, it is highly probable that you will be reselected
if you are a private sector scheme or section with fewer than 1,000 members at the time that the new sample is drawn, we will try to ensure that you are not reselected for at least one sampling period; immediate reselection will only happen if we do not have enough information to identify you as the same scheme or section, for instance, if your name or reference number has changed (in this case, you can contact us to query the reselection)
if you are a private sector scheme or section in the survey's middle-size bands (between 1,000 and 10,000 members for DB or hybrid and between 1,000 and 25,000 members for DC) at the time that the new sample is drawn, you may or may not be reselected
End of the annual balance sheet
The previous Pension Funds Survey consisted of two separate quarterly questionnaires (income and expenditure; and transactions and balances) and an annual balance sheet. The FSPS uses a single, spreadsheet-based questionnaire to ask you for information on all aspects of the scheme's accounts, including balances, every quarter (three months). There is no separate annual balance sheet.
Schemes in wind-up or PPF assessment: requirement to complete the survey
Schemes that are in wind-up are required to complete the survey until they are fully wound up (there are no longer any members, assets or liabilities). When wind-up is complete, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with FSPS 093 and your reference number in the subject line, to let us know the date of completion so that we can remove you from the sample for periods after that date.
Schemes that are in the PPF assessment period are also required to complete the survey. If that process results in them entering the PPF, please email email@example.com with FSPS 093 and your reference number in the subject line, so that we can remove you from the sample for periods after that date.
What to do if an additional person needs access to complete the FSPS
You can enrol on our Office for National Statistics (ONS) Business Surveys website, download the questionnaire and send it to another person to complete. Once they have completed it and you have checked it, you will need to upload the completed questionnaire yourself; your colleagues will not be able to upload it on your behalf.
Alternatively, you can ask us to provide access to your ONS survey account for an additional user by calling 0300 1234 931, please enter the three-digit survey ID 093 (+44 (0)1633 810495 from outside the UK). You will be provided with a unique enrolment code for the additional user. This will give them shared access to the survey, so they can download the questionnaire and upload it when it has been completed.
Locked out or need a password reset
If you still have the email address you used to create your account, you will be able to reset your password by using the "forgot password" link on the sign-in page. If you get locked out, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with FSPS 093 and your reference number in the subject line. The account can be unlocked after completion of security checks.
What to do if you need to revise earlier returns
It is possible to re-upload revised survey returns, and revisions can be resubmitted through the history tab on SDC (ONS's online survey system), and then selecting the relevant quarter.
For respondents who have been selected in the sample from Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022, you will only need to provide returns for Quarter 2 2022 onwards.Back to table of contents
2. Questionnaire guidance and definitions
What to do if you cannot complete the survey by the eight-week deadline
The return deadline for the FSPS is eight weeks. This is an extension of four to five weeks compared with the deadline for the previous Pension Funds Survey.
If you do not have all the information, we ask you to provide estimates for the missing information and, if possible, to resubmit the return when you have complete information. The ONS's online survey system will allow you to revise figures for the previous quarter or quarters
What to do if there are significant discrepancies between the returns for the four quarters (when you add them up) and the scheme's annual report
If possible, we ask you to revise previous quarters' results in line with the annual accounts, but we understand that this may not always be feasible. We cannot provide guidance on what size of discrepancies will be allowed because they vary between and within the spreadsheets. We ask that you note any significant discrepancies in the general comments box on the "Review" spreadsheet or in the "Comments" columns.Back to table of contents
3. Spreadsheet-specific queries
Spreadsheet 1: Reporting information
Quarterly reporting requirement
You must not change the reporting period from a three-month (quarterly period) to a 12-month (annual) period. If you believe that there are special circumstances that make it impossible for you to report quarterly, you can request a review of your case by emailing us at email@example.com quoting "FSPS – questions" in the subject line. You should include a brief explanation of the reasons for your request along with your reference number.
More than one Pension Scheme Registry (PSR) number to enter in cell F18
Cell F18 can accommodate a string of numbers. Please put in all the PSR numbers, separated by commas.
Spreadsheet 3: Contributions and 6: Other income
Reason for exclusion from other employer contributions of amounts paid to the scheme by the employer, master trust founder or other sponsor
We ask for these amounts to be reported separately in row 5 of spreadsheet 6 rather than in row 13 of spreadsheet 3 (other employer contributions). This is because, for the national accounts, reimbursement of expenses by employers may need to be treated separately from contributions to members' pensions.
Spreadsheet 5: Investment income
Treatment of receipts from annuity providers
The guidance for the FSPS is that income from annuities held in the name of the scheme Trustees should be reported in spreadsheet 5, row 14. However, it has been brought to our attention that the SORP (paragraph 3.8.32 in the current SORP; paragraph 3.8.34 in the new SORP) says: "The receipts from the annuity provider can be reported as sale proceeds, investment income or apportioned between sales proceeds and investment income". To align with the SORP, if all (or part) of your scheme's annuity receipts are in the form of sales proceeds rather than investment income, these may be reported in spreadsheet 14a, row 14, rather than (or in addition to) spreadsheet 5, row 14. Care should be taken to avoid double counting when reporting in spreadsheets 5 and 14a.
Spreadsheet 5: Investment income and 7: Benefits
If money paid by an insurer to trustees on insurance (annuity) policies is reported in spreadsheet 5 and annuities paid to pensioners by trustees are reported in spreadsheet 7, is this double counting?
The survey is interested in recording flows of both income and expenditure. The money coming in on spreadsheet 5 (or 14a) is income, and the money paid out on spreadsheet 7 is expenditure. In this case, these flows balance each other out.
Spreadsheet 5: Investment income and 9: Expenses reporting insurance relating to death benefits
Premiums relating to death benefits paid by the scheme to insurers should be recorded in row 18 of spreadsheet 9 (Other expenses not included elsewhere). Claims relating to death benefits paid by insurers to the scheme trustees should be recorded in row 14 of spreadsheet 5 (Income from insurance policies). See also additional guidance for spreadsheets 11 and 14a: Reporting insurance relating to death benefits.
Spreadsheet 7: Benefits
Row 39 in spreadsheet 7 says "exclude payments made to members directly by insurers (not by the scheme)". What happens if insurers are paying benefits to members directly because they are acting as administrators on behalf of the scheme?
In this case, the insurer is acting in its capacity as an administrator for the trustees. Therefore, this is not a "payment made to members directly by insurers" (the exclusion referred to in row 39 of spreadsheet 7). Conceptually, as the insurer is acting on behalf of the scheme trustees in paying the pensions, this is the same as if the insurer were paying the income on the insurance (annuity) policies to the trustees and this were then paid out by the trustees to the pensioners.
This aligns with the SORP (currently paragraph 3.8.32; paragraph 3.8.34 in the new SORP), which says: "income arising from annuity policies held by the trustees of a scheme may be paid to the trustees in order to fund the pension paid by the scheme to the pensioner(s) or it may be paid directly to the pensioner by the annuity provider. In both these circumstances the receipts arising from the annuity policies should be included in the financial statements and the pensions paid to the pensioners included in pension payments".
Spreadsheet 9: Expenses
Internal or "in-house" costs in row 12
These are the costs remaining after the payments to external administrators, managers, custodians and other service providers in row 13 have been accounted for. In cases where all tasks are contracted out, this may be zero. Row 12 can be calculated as row 10 less row 13.
How to record refunds and rebates from investment managers and other service providers
Please record such refunds or rebates in the appropriate line as negative values (against expenses, which should be recorded as positive values). If the refund received is greater than expenses paid in a given quarter, the total value in the line will be a negative value.
How do refunds or rebates from investment managers and other service providers differ from reimbursement of expenses by employers, which are to be recorded in row 5 of spreadsheet 6?
Row 5 of spreadsheet 6 is conceptually about additional income received by the scheme, for instance when a sponsor decides to put money into the scheme to cover the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) levy that has been paid out as an expense; whereas a refund or rebate when the scheme has paid too much out in expenses reduces expenses on spreadsheet 9.
If the scheme pays a PPF levy and then the employer pays this money to the scheme as income, total expenses are unchanged; whereas if an investment manager reimburses part of their fees back to the scheme, total expenses are reduced.
Spreadsheet 11: Assets
Reporting gross rather than net and avoiding negative values
Please ensure that you are reporting assets gross, with liabilities reported gross on spreadsheet 12. You should not report net values for assets on spreadsheet 11. There should be no negative values in spreadsheet 11 except in cases of "short selling". We have amended the error message in spreadsheet 11 to alert you to cases where you may be reporting net values instead of reporting gross; however, you can ignore the error messages for negative values where short selling is involved (they will not prevent you from uploading the file).
Reporting accrued income relating to repos and reverse repos as net positions on spreadsheet 11 (row 40)
Please do not report net positions for accrued income relating to repos and reverse repos in spreadsheet 11. Instead, please report each side of the position separately, with negatives presented in spreadsheet 12 as positive figures (absolute values) in row 16 "income arrears".
Reporting quarterly values for investments, such as insurance policies, which may only provide an annual valuation
If, as part of the scheme's normal accounting procedures, you produce updated estimates within the year, please use these. If not, please use the latest available information and include a note in the relevant row of the "Comments" column.
Where to report infrastructure investments
Unless these are held as part of a pooled investment vehicle, they should be reported as part of alternatives in row 37 of spreadsheet 11.
Meaning of bank and building societies
"Banks and building societies" in rows 11 and 26 refers to two specific sub-sectors of the Financial Corporations sector in the national accounts: S.121 (central bank – in our case the Bank of England) and S.122 (deposit-taking corporations except the central bank).
Reporting of assets that are classified under the same industry classification as a bank or building society but are in fact issued by non-bank-and-building-society subsidiary companies
If the assets are issued by a different company or special purpose vehicle in a sector other than S.122, then they should not be included under the heading "banks and building societies".
Spreadsheet 11: Assets and 14a: Transactions
Where to report cash balances pertaining to investments held by investment manager as at the quarter end
If the cash balance is part of a mandate to invest in pooled investment vehicles (funds), it should be included within the amounts reported for these funds (row 5 of spreadsheet 11 and row 10 of spreadsheet 14a). If it is part of a direct investment mandate, it may be reported either in row 9 of spreadsheet 11, which feeds into row 16 of spreadsheet 14a or in row 47 of spreadsheet 11, which feeds into row 15 of spreadsheet 14a (as appropriate).
Reporting insurance relating to death benefits
We are changing the guidance relating to reporting insurance relating to death benefits in row 49 of spreadsheet 11 and row 14 of spreadsheet 14a (insurance policies). The original guidance was to include insurance relating to death benefits in these rows. However, we understand that where a life insurance policy has been purchased that only pays out on death, it has no value as an asset (it does not appear on the balance sheet). In such cases, we could potentially include premiums and claims relating to death benefits in spreadsheet 14a (transactions), but as they would not be included in the opening or closing balances these rows would not add up.
We are therefore changing the guidance to exclude insurance relating to death benefits from row 49 of spreadsheet 11 and row 14 of spreadsheet 14a. See also additional guidance for spreadsheets 5 and 9: Reporting insurance relating to death benefits.
Spreadsheet 12: Liabilities
Is the "actuarial basis" for reporting scheme's pension liabilities the Accounting Actuarial Basis or the Technical Actuarial Basis?
Ideally, we would like to have these estimates on the same basis that they report to the Pensions Regulator. However, we understand that this may not be feasible to do on a quarterly basis. We will accept estimates on whichever basis they are normally calculated in the scheme's report and accounts.
Spreadsheet 13: Derivatives
Net or gross reporting for derivatives
All derivatives should be reported on a gross basis. For example, in a swap arrangement with two legs, each side should be reported separately (an asset and a liability) rather than reporting as a net asset.
Spreadsheet 14a: Transactions and change in market value
Reporting realised and unrealised gains and losses
In the FSPS, we ask you to report realised and unrealised gains and losses for the reporting period only (see guidance in columns F and G of spreadsheet 14a). Conventional pension scheme accounting involves reporting realised gains and losses as the proceeds received from assets sold during the period minus their historical average book cost.
In cases where the historical average book cost is calculated at the end of each quarter, the results for realised gains and losses will meet the FSPS requirements; but if the historical average book cost is the original cost of acquisition of the assets, it may be difficult to produce the estimates on the basis requested.
For those schemes where historical average book cost is the original cost of acquisition of the assets, we recommend that you calculate realised gains and losses by first calculating all other changes between the opening and closing balance (stock movements, unrealised gains and losses and other changes in market value) and then calculating realised gains and losses as the residual. This will ensure that realised gains and losses as well as unrealised gains and losses are calculated for the reporting period only.
Spreadsheet 15: Pooled investment vehicles
What to do if you cannot get the underlying fund name
We understand that in some cases you may not be able to get this information. Please complete as much information as possible for each fund.
What to do if you cannot find the ISIN, SEDOL or Citicode
We understand that in some cases you may not be able to get this information. Please complete as much information as possible for each fund.
What to do if you cannot distinguish the type of fund, in particular if it is a unit trust, OEIC or investment trust
In this case, please leave the dropdown on "please select" and complete the rest of the information about the fund. Our analysts will use the other information you provide to try to establish what type of fund it is.Back to table of contents