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Master trust data including cluster schemes

For the purpose of these figures a 'cluster scheme' is one where the same company provides insurance, administration and trustee services, there are no other trustees, and the scheme is not otherwise classified as a master trust.

The Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) consultation on occupational pension schemes (master trusts) regulations states that the Pension Schemes Act 2017 'includes powers to apply some or all of its provisions to pension schemes with specified characteristics that do not fall within the definition of a master trust scheme and treat two or more pension schemes as one master trust scheme in specified circumstances.'

The consultation also describes cluster schemes as a 'model in which multiple schemes are set up so that they each only have a single or connected group of employers but are in reality subject to common rules or controlled in a common way.'

Our master trust data below includes two tables:

  • Table 1 - provides our estimate of how many cluster schemes there currently are, when counted at provider level. This also shows the total number of members, although the number of active members is restricted as it is lower than 500.
  • Table 2 - shows the effect on our overall landscape figures if we re-classify relevant schemes as cluster schemes and count them at provider level.

It should be noted that there may be 'cluster schemes' operated by non-insurance companies, and those have not been captured here. The figures also don’t include hybrid schemes with DC members.

Market value of scheme assets split by governance structure

In our defined contribution (DC) trust statistics publication we publish statistics on scheme and member volumes split by governance structure. Further detail on the method of collecting our data can be found in that publication.

In addition we publish statistics on scheme assets split by scheme size and status. See the file below for statistics on scheme assets split by governance structure. In the future we will include this split within the DC trust publication.

Governance structure (method for classifying)

The governance structure theme is designed to show the number of master trusts, (schemes with non-associated employers), which has been a growth since the introduction of automatic enrolment, and also to separate out those schemes that have been created by employers (unbundled) from those which have been purchased from a pension provider (bundled), and have all services provided by related corporate entities.

The scheme return doesn't have a question that provides the bundled / unbundled split so we made an estimate by analysing data provided on the insurer or administrator. Where the same company is listed as both administrator and insurer, we classed this as a bundled scheme. Where the companies are different we classed them as unbundled, and if the administrator is not present, we labelled them 'unknown'.

Last year, we started incorporating email addresses into this data cleaning process, so if a scheme provides an individual’s name as their administrator, we then check the email address for that individual and, if relevant, assign that scheme to the appropriate company. This reduces the number of unknown schemes.

There has also been a change to the assumption made. Previously, where a scheme did not provide an insurer name they were classed as ‘unknown’. For the purpose of these statistics, it is assumed that all bundled schemes will have an insurer, so where a scheme does not provide an insurer name it is classed as ‘unbundled’.

Master trust (definition)

In the Pension Schemes Act 2017, a master trust scheme is defined as an occupational pension scheme that is:

  • used by more than one employer
  • provides money purchase pensions (either alone or with other benefits)
  • not a public sector scheme or used only by connected employers

For the purposes of this publication, we have previously defined a master trust as an occupational trust-based pension scheme established by declaration of trust, which is or has been promoted to provide benefits to employers which are not connected, and where each employer group is not included in a separate section with its own trustees. We consider employers to be connected if they are part of the same group of companies (including partially owned subsidiaries and joint ventures).

View the DWP's consultation on occupational pension schemes (master trusts) regulations 2018 and our data on master trusts including cluster schemes.

Industry-wide master trust (definition)

An industry-wide master trust is a master trust scheme that is only offered to employers within a specific industry.

Bundled / unbundled scheme (definition)

A bundled scheme is one where the majority of services are provided by related corporate entities, and an unbundled scheme is one where services are provided by different companies.

Please note that these figures do not include assets in micro DC schemes (2 to 11 members) or hybrid schemes with DC members.

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