The Pensions Regulator (TPR) - Chair

Body: The Pension Regulator
Appointing Department: Department for Work and Pensions
Sector: Regulation
Location: TPR is based in Brighton with occasional travel in the UK. Meetings are currently being undertaken virtually.
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: Annual Remuneration of £73,840
Time Requirements: The time commitment required will be two days per week


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced the appointment of Sarah Smart as the new permanent Chair of The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Smart has been serving as the interim Chair since 1 April 2021, and is due to be made the permanent Chair on 1 June 2021, following the recent Work and Pensions Select Committee pre-appointment hearing.

Minister for Pensions, Guy Opperman, said:

“The Chair is a vital part of The Pensions Regulator, providing effective oversight of this high-profile organisation and engaging and building positive relationships with senior stakeholders.”

“This is a challenging but rewarding role, and I am delighted that after serving as Interim Chair, Sarah has now been officially appointed as the permanent Chair.”

Newly appointed Chair of The Pensions Regulator, Sarah Smart, said:

“I am delighted to be appointed Chair of TPR at such a challenging and exciting time. Continuing my work with the Board, I intend to use my extensive experience in the pensions sector to ensure TPR’s resources are used effectively to protect savers, drive up standards of governance and administration, and embrace change.”

“My role will be to oversee the strategic delivery of that work, supporting the CEO and TPR’s many talented and committed staff, but also challenging where necessary so we remain a successful, flexible, resilient and diverse regulator.”

Charles Counsell, CEO of The Pensions Regulator, said:

“We welcome the appointment of Sarah Smart as Chair of TPR. Sarah has a deep knowledge of the pensions industry, built up over 20 years of working in a number of important governance roles, including five years as a Board member at TPR.”

“Her experience will be extremely valuable as we strengthen our regulatory grip on an ever-changing pensions landscape, and meet the challenges ahead by delivering on our Corporate Strategy.”

“I look forward to working with Sarah and our Board to ensure that TPR continues to be clear, quick and tough, using its resources in the most efficient way to bring the maximum benefit for savers, and to hold to account those who threaten the retirement security for millions in workplace pensions.”

The appointment was made following an open competition regulated by The Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments.

Further information
•The Chair is entitled to an annual remuneration of £73,840, based on a time commitment of around 104 days per year.
•The Chair’s performance will be assessed at least once a year against objectives for each year of the appointment and linked to the performance of TPR. The appraisal will be carried out by a person of appropriate level within DWP.

Date: 07/05/2021

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift

    w/c 11 January 2021 (TBC)

  • Final Interview Date

    w/c 22 February 2021 (TBC)

  • Announcement

    07/05/2021 at 12:00


Assessment Panel

  • The Rt Hon Lord Mcloughlin CH Added 26/11/2020

    Panel Chair

    Conservative Life peer

    Show more information

  • Pete Searle Added 26/11/2020

    Director of DWP’s Arm’s Length Bodies Partnership Division • Departmental Official

    Show more information

  • Juliet Palfrey Added 26/11/2020

    HM Treasury, Deputy Director, Pensions and Savings • Other Panel Member

    Show more information

  • Olivia Grant, OBE Added 26/11/2020

    OCPA Appointed Independent Assessor • Senior Independent Panel Member

    Show more information

Vacancy Description

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is the public body that protects workplace pensions in the UK. TPR works with employers and those running pension schemes so that people can save safely for their retirement.

TPR aims to be a strong, visible regulator that builds people’s confidence in pensions.

TPR is a public body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It has around 750 staff and is based in Brighton. TPR works closely with the Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates personal pension schemes, and with other public bodies.

TPR is responsible for:

  • protecting people’s savings in workplace pensions
  • improving the way that workplace pension schemes are run
  • reducing the risk of pension schemes ending up in the Pension Protection Fund (PPF)
  • making sure employers balance the needs of their defined benefit pension scheme with growing their business
  • making sure employers enrol their staff into a pension scheme and pay money into it (known as ‘automatic enrolment’)


TPR Corporate Priorities

The six priorities below reflect TPR’s current outlook for the year ahead, and its key activities and areas of focus within them.

1. Support workplace pensions schemes to deliver benefits through significant change driven by the global  pandemic
2. Protect pension savers across all scheme types through proactive and targeted regulatory interventions
3. Provide clarity to, and promote the high standards of trusteeship, governance and administration we expect
4. Intervene where appropriate so that DB schemes achieve their long-term funding strategy and deliver on pension promise
5. Ensure jobholders have an opportunity to save into a qualifying workplace pension through automatic enrolment
6. Continue to build a regulator capable of meeting the future challenges we face

Further details can be found on TPR’s website and specifically in its corporate plan and Annual Report and Accounts.

TPR works within the policy and resource framework determined by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; its Corporate Plan and its financial resources and headcount budget is agreed with the DWP.


About the TPR Board

Legislation provides that TPR is operationally independent of Government and is overseen by a Board of executive and non-executive members, including the Chair.

The Board ensures that effective arrangements are in place to provide assurance on risk management, governance and internal control.

The Chair is appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions following open competition. Public Appointments are regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The Board of TPR meets around eight times a year and currently comprises: the Chair; six Non-Executive Directors; the Chief Executive and four Executive Directors. The Board, led by the Chair, oversees TPR’s strategic and policy direction, and ensures that TPR is properly run as a public body having due regard to its statutory objectives and has effective internal controls. It also ensures that TPR complies with statutory and administrative requirements for value for money and the use of public funds.

The term of the current Chair comes to an end on 31 March 2021.


The Role of the Chair

TPR is the UK regulator of workplace pension schemes with around 750 employees and 30 million pension savers. As well as working with employers and those running pensions so that people can save safely for their retirement, TPR is also key to the delivery of the Government’s automatic enrolment programme. TPR works with DWP to develop and implement policy.

TPR has faced a period of unprecedented Parliamentary and media interest due to high profile cases such as BHS and the resulting Select Committee inquiry. At the same time TPR is helping to deliver high auto‑enrolment compliance rates and is working as a proactive regulator in a clearer, quicker and tougher way (CQT). TPR and Automatic Enrolment is in a position of transformation and change.

We are looking for a candidate with excellent communication and interpersonal skills to ensure productive engagement with a broad range of stakeholders across the public and private sectors. The successful applicant will be collaborative, persuasive, have the ability to challenge the current situation and the determination and skills to develop ideas through to implementation.

Key responsibilities will include:

  • leading the Board, ensuring its meetings are focused on TPR’s current and future priorities and that the Board’s views are communicated clearly to the executive team
  • ensuring there is a constructive working relationship with Ministers and officials in the sponsoring body, the Department for Work and Pensions
  • reviewing TPR’s strategic direction and ensuring alignment with DWP priorities; ensuring that its plans are challenged constructively by the Board so that priorities and targets are clear and appropriate
  • providing strong leadership to ensure TPR delivers on its plans in line with the statutory, administrative and financial frameworks that apply to it
  • working with the Chief Executive to ensure TPR is effective and efficient and so provides excellent value for money
  • supporting and motivating the executive team whilst also holding them to account for agreed delivery objectives and sound financial management
  • representing TPR confidently and persuasively externally including at conferences, with the media and with expert stakeholders.


Person Specification

Essential Criteria

The successful candidate must demonstrate:

  • ability to lead a high profile board and take strategic decisions of long-term significance and with legal and financial consequences
  • excellent stakeholder management and communication skills, in particular the ability to engage and build effective relationships quickly with Ministers, policy makers and other key players in the pensions landscape

ability to quickly understand the strategic issues facing pensions and the Regulator and to contribute constructively and persuasively to the debate.

Desirable Criteria

  • Willingness to develop knowledge of the environment within which the public sector operates including a good understanding of parliament.
  • Knowledge of work-based pension schemes and wider pension industry experience.
  • Experience of operating within a regulatory environment.
  • Knowledge and understanding of risk management.


How to Apply

In order for us to progress your application please submit the following completed documentation:
1. A CV (maximum 2-3 pages) with your education and professional qualifications and full employment history.

2. An accompanying Supporting Statement (maximum 2 pages, font 12). This is your opportunity to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria set out in this information pack. You should aim to provide specific examples that demonstrate how your knowledge and experience matches each of the criteria, and that describe what your role was in achieving a specific result.

Please ensure your full name and the post for which you are applying are clearly noted at the top of your CV and Supporting Statement.

3. Personal Information Form Most of the information requested is not seen by the panel assessing your application (though the panel may consider your declaration of interests).

4. Diversity Monitoring Form. Collecting and analysing candidate data will help us improve our diversity strategy. It will allow us to run more successful recruitment exercises in the future and ensure that competitions are fair for all. This form is not part of the selection process and will be treated in strictest confidence. It will be kept separate from your application and not be seen by the selection panel.

Please email your application to:

The vacancy closes at 23:00 on 03/01/2021

If you have any difficulty in sending your application or need the application pack in an alternative format (e.g. Braille, large print, audio CD, tape or e-text), please contact the DWP ALB Public Appointments Team at the email address above.

Personal Information Form (TPR Chair)
Diversity Form (TPR Chair)
201126. TPR Chair Candidate Pack FINAL
Return to Search